Pat’s Story

“I remember him delivering the Grand Rapids Press. He – and all the newsboys – began collecting for the paper as soon as he delivered them – collecting once a week. That was the common practice and part of the carriers responsibility. He always took the collection “downtown” to the Press Office,  and that’s where he got his start.

He was very active in sports at Creston High School – playing football, basketball and tennis — lettering in all sports and active in many high-school activities. I recall asking him one morning on the way to school if they “beat” the opposing team. “We never beat anyone”, he responded, “we just win or lose”. 

— T. Michael Jackson, Pat’s younger brother

Biography & Professional History

Born in 1932 and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Pat was influenced strongly by his Dutch Reformed Mother, Edythe Minnema  and  Irish father, Ira Jackson.  Ira ran the bus service in Grand Rapids while Edythe managed the lives of Pat and his younger brother T. Michael Jackson (who coincidentally went on to have his own illustrious career in the field, retiring from Dow Corning as  Global Director, Corporate Relations—Dow Corning Corporation.)

Early on, Pat was heavily involved in the Congregational Church youth groups.  Throughout his formative years he traveled Michigan as a church leader, speaking to them and expanding his comfort and personal style in front of audiences.

An early reader of the news, he credited his ability to read the newspaper upside-down by sitting across from his Dad while he was reading at the dining table.  Much of his early years were spent reading about the world and it’s war (WWII) — perhaps an early nudge toward his later pacifism.

He started delivering the very papers he was reading early on.   Part of that job meant collecting door to door to get the payment on behalf of the Grand Rapids Press.   He grew comfortable and familiar to those in the newsroom, having to deliver payments regularly.  One day, a short-handed editor asked him if he knew how to type.  Typical of Pat, he said he did (though he didn’t ) and the editor sat him down to answer the phone and take reports from the stringers who were out watching high school games.  He was to write up the news for publication.  Hunting and pecking his way around the keyboard (something he never stopped doing), it began is first foray into journalism.

After graduated from Creston High school where he was a very active and admired student, Pat attended Kenyon College (Ohio) for two years, but left early to support a growing family.  He went back into journalism, but on the business side, running papers in Beckley, West Virginia and elsewhere.

Eventually, Pat recognized an opportunity to help others gain a voice in the media and formed Jackson, King and Griffith with two experienced colleagues.  In 1956, it became Jackson Jackson & Wagner, which in 2016 celebrated its 60th year of practice.

Pat often credited his expertise to the years he and his colleagues spent  working only for public interest clients.  As one of the earliest counselors to the anti-nuclear activists, and land use, planning and environmental advocates, most of which were born in the New England region, they helped lay the groundwork for how to grow a cause effectively.  To this day, New Hampshire owes much of its beauty to the work Pat and his colleagues did to pass “current use” which allows landowners to keep their land open and free from development without being taxed into selling.

Once the activist groups learned the ropes and seized the upper hand from corporate entities, Pat recognized that others could benefit from the knowledge and skills that had been developed over this time.  Schools, universities, healthcare, non-profits and, yes, corporate too, would benefit, he felt, in learning how to listen, create more open, two-way communication and find common ground.  The remainder of his career would be spent counseling all types of organization, educating all practitioners and reaching out to the academic community to encourage them to do the research that practitioners needed to do their work in a XXX-based way.

Curriculum Vita

Patrick Jackson was one of the 20th Century’s most widely known and respected public relations practitioners.  Often called the “public relations counselor’s counsel,” he was committed to teaching other practitioners about the direction the profession was going and the strategy, techniques and philosophy needed to get there.

He spoke at seminars in 48 states and seven Canadian provinces -over 4000 speaking engagements in his 50 years of practice. He was most satisfied when he was among his colleagues teaching, talking and learning.

Among the many professional and civic activities that earned him his rightful reputation as a public relations legend were:

  • Editor of pr reporter, the definitive newsletter of the field, 1976 -2001
  • Senior counsel of Jackson Jackson & Wagner, international behavioral public relations and management counseling firm founded in 1956, and noted for developing new strategies and techniques
  • Co-author of Public Relations Practices (with Allen Center) the principal case study text used by practitioners and over 250 colleges
  • President of Public Relations Society of America in 1980 and one of 26 Founding Members of the Society’s College of Fellows in 1989
  • Chairman, Board of Visitors, Defense Information School (a joint Congressional and Department of Defense appointment) for 10 years
  • Curriculum adviser to six university public relations sequences; adjunct professor or visiting scholar at Boston University, Universidad del Sagrado Corazon (Puerto Rico), University of Central Florida and several others
  • Trustee, PRSA and IABC Foundation
  • Member, National Advisory Boards: University of South Carolina, Grand Valley State University, Ferris State (chairman), Ball State, Rowan University
  • Chairman, Behavioral Sciences Division, Interdisciplinary Public Relations Research Conference
  • Chairman, Counselors Academy Measurement Project
  • Member, The Institute for Public Relations Measurement Commission
  • Member, University of Tennessee College of Communications Board of Visitors

Among the clients he served were six Cabinet-level federal agencies and numerous government departments; many Fortune 100 or equivalent companies in a variety of industries; national educational organizations and school districts in 39 states; prominent colleges and universities; professional societies and trade associations; a wide range of healthcare institutions; and many nonprofit public interest entities.

For 15 years in the 60s and 70s, Jackson Jackson & Wagner became a public interest public relations firm, and was active in the environment, consumer, civil liberties, civil rights, physical rehabilitation and other movements. It was probably the first pr firm to work in the environmental area, beginning in 1964.

Honors and awards he received while living include:

  • Gold Anvil, highest award in public relations for “career contributions to the profession,” 1986
  • President’s Award, its highest, from the National School Public Relations Association, 1993
  • Arthur W. Page Award from University of Texas, 1985
  • First inductee of the Rowan College PR Hall of Fame, 1996
  • Key Communicator Award from Glassboro State College
  • National Public Relations Achievement Award from Ball State University, 1984
  • Pathfinder Award from Kent State University, 1993, for “extraordinary leadership and vision in the public relations profession”
  • Learning and Liberty Award, 1987, for “Outstanding Contributions to Education in Our Democratic Society”
  • The 1978 Lincoln Award for “Outstanding Contributions to the New England Community”
  • Inducted into Defense Information School Hall of Fame, 1999
  • Patrick Jackson Leadership Award established in 1998, PRSSA University of Northern Iowa, given to students displaying integrity, ingenuity and leadership
  • PRSA Educators Academy David Ferguson Award, 1998
  • Listed in Who’s Who in America since 1976 and Who’s Who in the World since 1980

For three decades, Jackson was an active participant in local and regional government bodies and civic organizations, often serving as chairman, president or committee chair. These include land use and other regulatory or appeals boards, historical societies, conservation and agricultural organizations, social welfare, public broadcasting and several others.

Educated at Kenyon and Antioch/New England Graduate School, he held a master’s degree in organization development.