Sorcerer’s Apprentice Part Two: Remembering John R. Walsh

Posted on November 1, 2009. Filed under: Jazz, Newspapers, Public Relations Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |


John Walsh & Sonia Henie

OK. Here’s what really got me thinking about mentors when I wrote a post about my inbound marketing teachers earlier today. On November 1, 2007 – hard to believe it’s two years ago — my own, dear personal mentor died. His name was John R. Walsh and he was one of the unsung giants of PR. He led small New York PR agencies with and without partners that broke a lot of new ground from the early 1960s through the mid-1980s.

John created amazing PR programs for major brands. These included Colgate Palmolive’s women’s golf events – the Colgate-Dinah Shore and the Triple Crown match play tournament, precursors to what we now call sports marketing. When Dinah died and AP stories pictured her on the 18th tee of Mission Hills Country Club in Palm Springs, home of the tournament, former Colgate CEO David Foster wrote John a personal note pointing out that the tournament continued to shine a positive spotlight on the company years after it ended.

He turned the staid nautical marketing image of Cutty Sark Scots Whisky on its ear when he convinced its distributor to give him ‘one billboard’s worth of budget’ to sponsor a star-studded men’s fashion awards event in collaboration with the Men’s Fashion Association. The Cutty Sark Menswear Awards were nominated and voted by the fashion press, ran for years and boosted the careers of designers like Gianni Versace, Alexander Julian, Jhane Barnes and many others. It also sold a lot of scotch.

Baroness Philippine de Rothschild became John’s friend as well as client when he handled the Smithsonian-sponsored US tour of the original art work for the Mouton Rothschild vintage wine labels. These are only a few examples of his brilliant campaign creation.

 He was a commanding presence who had Fortune 500 CEO’s, Hollywood stars, the press and other influential personae falling in line with his ideas. He was a great producer of shows, played a mean piano (in the key of ‘C’ only) and composed some terrific songs (also in ‘C’). He thrilled at hearing the overture to a Broadway show – which is why the music you’re listening to here is the overture from the original cast album of Mack & Mabel – one of his favorites – starring Robert Preston and Bernadette Peters.

John recognized that writing was a natural talent of mine and convinced me of it too by giving me heavy-duty writing assignments when I was just a kid really. He taught me to see the relationships among seemingly un-related dots – and then to connect them. When I decided to start my own PR consultancy he assured me that it was a no-brainer and that I’d certainly succeed.

 The proudest media success of my career was the role I played in writing his obit and placing it in the New York Times. The archives somehow detached the accompanying photo of John skating with Olympic gold medalist and movie star Sonja Henie so I’ve posted it for you to see. I forgot to mention that he was her partner in her touring ice show.  Other details of his life and career – including the fact that in an interesting turn he became my stepfather – are in the press coverage.

Thinking of you, John. I miss you and love you.

Advertisements

Make a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

3 Responses to “Sorcerer’s Apprentice Part Two: Remembering John R. Walsh”

RSS Feed for New PR Words – and Music! Comments RSS Feed

A great man. I had the privilege to work in JW’s PR office in the 1970″s. I am in awe when I think that I spent everyday in his presence for many years. It dawns on me more and more everyday what an incredible talent he was. A true gentleman in every sense of the word.

Thanks so much for commenting. I’d really like to speak with you about your time working with John. I’ll reach out via email.

Ellie

Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an really long comment but after
I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
Anyways, just wanted to say superb blog!


Where's The Comment Form?

  • Enter your email address to follow my blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Thanks for your support!

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...

%d bloggers like this: