Harland “Hal” Warner, past president of the Public Relations Society of America and an expert in crisis communications, died July 4 at his home in Vienna, Va.
Warner was born in Keene, NH, and graduated from Clark University in Worcester, Mass. He worked for 14 years as a reporter, editor and columnist for the Hartford Times, leaving in 1965, and later worked for Becker College in Worcester for five years as director of public relations and alumni activities, before joining Corning as a product specialist. He wrote the communications program for Corning’s handling of a major product recall, and later organized the first national conference of “action line” journalists.
He moved to Washington in 1979 as vice president of Fraser Associates, a public affairs firm, and in 1982 joined Bill Rolle Associates, a firm that later merged with Manning Selvage & Lee, where he became executive vice president and director of crisis management. In 1994, he was named senior principal at Capitoline/MS&L when those firms merged.
Warner served as national PRSA president in 1993 and was a charter member of the PRSA College of Fellows. He was also president of the Washington, D.C. National Capital Chapter in 1987.
“He was a giant in our industry—a pioneer in strategic planning and global public relations, a mentor to countless professionals as well as PRSA and industry leaders,” says PRSA chair and CEO Rhoda Weiss. “His work in corporate and agency public relations was groundbreaking and his leadership in crisis communications planning set the stage for the profession.”