Remembrance of Al Golin

By: Ellen Ryan Mardiks, Vice Chair

Two years ago, we lost our beloved founder and my first mentor, Al Golin. In every meeting and conversation with Al, I learned something. It might have been as simple as the importance of giving a client your full attention, or as profound as the need to own up to failures. Al was so understated, so self-effacing, so genuine that it was easy to forget what a giant he was. I’ll never forget one time (of the many) I was reminded of that fact. Al received dozens of awards and accolades through his career, but the one that meant the most to him was the establishment of the Al Golin Brand Trust Award by his long-time client, McDonald’s. He was, not surprisingly, the first recipient of the award. I was in the audience at a meeting of McDonald’s leadership and Global Communications staff when they called him on stage. There were 1000 people there. A video played, telling of Al’s impact on McDonald’s. The client introducing Al held nothing back, noting that McDonald’s would be a shadow of the brand and business it had become, without Al. Al came on stage to a standing ovation. He said a few words in his usual understated way, but he really didn’t need to. It was the words others said about him, and the reaction of each and every person in that room, that spoke volumes.

Those 1000 people knew that Al made an enormous impact on their company and their lives.

I know it, too. I am forever grateful to this giant of the PR business, an everyday guy who proved the power of curiosity, the value of loyalty, the benefits of taking a risk.