Honoring Pat Jackson

There have been many awards established and tributes given in Pat’s memory.  The recipients of these awards along with other luminaries of the field have eloquently reflected on Pat’s contributions to the profession.  Just some of their remarks follow below.  If you would like to add your reflections to this page, contact us!

  • Patrick Jackson Service to PRSA Award, given by PRSA in honor of our Founder Patrick Jackson, and designed to honor those who have contributed greatly in service to PRSA.
  • The Annual Patrick Jackson Lecture, held by the Counselors to Higher Education (CHE), and given by a member of higher education, typically a college or university leader who has distinguished themselves in their career by building positive public relationships built on the principles espoused by Patrick Jackson.
  • The Pat Jackson Seminar Scholarship is administered by the National School Public Relations Association Foundation and was made possible by the generous donations of NSPRA colleagues and family in his memory. The scholarship covers the cost of a registration to the NSPRA National Seminar.
  • The Patrick Jackson Award, given by the Yankee Chapter/PRSA in honor of our Founder, Patrick Jackson and designed to recognize a professional who is not in the public relations field but nonetheless successfully uses public relations principles to benefit his or her organization and society. The purpose of the Patrick Jackson Award is to recognize excellence in the practice of public relations and demonstrate a track record of building relationships which earn trust.
  • Jackson-Sharpe Prize given by JJ&W through the International Public Relations Research Conference (IPRRC) and designed to reward academics and practitioners who work together to design thoughtful research useful to public relations practice.

Plus the award that Pat and his firm set up themselves during their 35th year of practice:

  • Jackson Jackson & Wagner Behavioral Science Prize given by JJ&W through the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and designed to honor pr educators who have contributed a substantial body of academic research to the practice of public relations.


Reflections on Pat from Recipients and More

“Pat was that rare combination of genius and generosity. He was forever on the forefront of defining and redefining the contemporary practice of public relations. Pat was the most fervent advocate of practicing public relations both as an art and a science, and he forged new ground in terms of establishing our profession as an integral part of the management of businesses, organizations, government and public service. His vision sometimes exceeded our grasp, but he was unceasing in his commitment to teach us and inspire us to take public relations into new realms, new responsibilities. He showed us what public relations could be at its very best, and then by his own professional achievements and his tireless commitment to teaching and lecturing and writing, he helped us learn.

This true genius, when combined with his generous spirit, played an integral role – no,
the integral role – in the development of the Public Relations Society into the organization it is today. He was always there, to chair a blue ribbon task force or counsel on a thorny problem; to help us see our way through an issue or create a new way of doing things. Without his incisive and insightful leadership that continued, full force, long after his term on the national board ended, PRSA today would be a far less successful organization. ”

– Kathy Lewton, Chair & CEO, PRSA, 2001

” Pat Jackson was the prototype of what I think a public relations professional should be. He approached his work as an intellectual – constantly reading, thinking, theorizing and researching about what he did. Pat actively consumed academic research on public relations and related fields, used it in his professional practice and wrote about it in pr reporter. He consistently supported public relations research and education. He and I appeared together on many programs over the years and worked together on a number of projects. I think Pat and I had the perfect symbiotic relationship of a scholar and a practitioner: We learned from each other and changed each other in ways that made me a better scholar and, I think, Pat a better practitioner. I don’t think anyone can ever replace him.
-Jim Grunig University of Maryland, 2001


Thank you very much, Jane.
This is a great honor, especially as I look beyond these bright lights and appreciate how many others could easily be standing here to accept this award for leadership and service to PRSA.

The fact that this award is in the name of Patrick Jackson is personally and professionally rewarding – Pat was a great friend and mentor to me, and to so many others.

I must thank the Honors and Awards Committee and those who wrote on my behalf, including the leaders of The PRSA College of Fellows. Three minutes’ time does not allow me to list all others who have mentored and pushed me and challenged me over many years, with their own good deeds. But I promise: cocktails are in your future!

I do thank PRSA, which has given me so many opportunities to learn, to lead and to serve with incredible students, peers, role models and thought leaders . . .
By the way, PRSA, Happy 70th Anniversary!

I’ve been teaching our Intro to Public Relations course for 30 years . . . and it is one of two favorites of mine because it gives me the opportunity to guide wide-eyed freshmen and sophomores from their early and vague concepts of Public Relations as “image building” or “damage control” or cool opportunities to hang out with celebrities. But that’s OK, as they start their education. They come to see Public Relations as a “management function” that builds and maintains relationships with the individuals and the groups that can bring an organization to success . . . or bring it to failure.

A few weeks into the semester, the schedule calls for “The Historical Evolution of Public Relations.” Predictably, eyes often glaze over and I know what some are thinking: “Why should I care about a bunch of ‘dead, white guys’?” It’s a good question, asked by many next-generations.

For current students – and even for many in this room — I suppose Pat Jackson, who passed away, much too early, in 2001, can be counted among those “dead white guys”.

But for me and many others here, Pat was the inspirational servant-leader who, like other Public Relations pioneers, helped in that evolution, raising our sights from publicists to professionals, from image-makers to counselors to top management, and from order-takers to change agents in, and for, society.

Pat, while not a university faculty member, was a true educator. Our 2018 National Chair, my Syracuse friend and colleague, Tony D’Angelo, once referred to Pat as “the Johnny Appleseed of Public Relations”. And so he was. When Pat was president of PRSA, he gave 250 speeches in one year, visiting chapters, districts, sections and many national forums to advocate for Public Relations as an agent of behavior change.

This was new . . . this was transformative . . . this was evolutionary.

Pat also pushed this Society beyond a “bunch of white guys” and he was often a co-conspirator with our first national woman president, Betsy Ann Plank, to whom we owe PRSSA, the Plank Center at the University of Alabama, and so many other innovations.

And Pat, living and working not far from this historic city of Boston, had the revolutionary idea that great Public Relations counsel could happen anywhere, and that great PRSA leaders could be found anywhere, not just in the concrete canyons of New York. He was an entrepreneur and he inspired others to build this business boldly, even if their first office was a kitchen table.

Our early pioneers – Ivy Ledbetter Lee, Edward L. Bernays, Arthur W. Page, Clem Whittaker, Rex Harlow, Scott Cutlip, Harold Burson, Dan Edelman, Al Golin, Ofield Dukes and Pat Jackson, to name a very few . . . were not always right and did not claim to be, but they were bold enough in their times to take small, often experimental, steps, to move this profession down new paths.

Then came an incredible honor roll of thoughtful women and professionals of color who, in their own spirit of revolution, questioned, pushed for change and earned it, widening those early pathways and finding new ones. Again, not always right, but always willing to experiment and learn.

And now, in our classrooms sit the future of this profession who are so bright and so earnest, who are asking the right questions about ethical practices, globalization, truth and accuracy, diversity and inclusiveness . . . embarking, I hope, on their own commitment to life-long learning.

So – I do not apologize for that lecture on “The Historical Evolution of Public Relations.” The old adage applies: those who do not study history are bound to repeat it.

Thank you, Pat Jackson. Thank you, PRSA. Here’s to the next 70 years of revolution and evolution.


Maria P. Russell, APR, Fellow PRSA, is a professor of Public Relations at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications, where she directs the School’s Office of Executive Education. She can be reached at mprussel@syr.edu or 315.443.4066.