JACKSONVILLE BEACH, FL—Jack Felton, a longtime corporate communications executive who became even more well-known as an educator and PR research pioneer, has passed away. He was 84.
Felton was vice-president of corporate communications at McCormick Spice Company in Baltimore from 1977 to 1994, after earlier serving as a first lieutenant with the USAF Strategic Air Command during the Korean War and holding progressively more senior public relations posts with U.S. Steel and Interstate Brands. He also served as president of the Public Relations Society of America in the mid-80s.
Felton joined the University of Florida faculty in 1993 as the Freedom Forum Distinguished Visiting Professor.
He then became president of the Institute for Public Relations—an organization focused on research and education and “the science beneath the art of public relations”—in 1994, holding that position until 2002. When he retired from the Institute in 2004, the board of trustees acknowledged that his “stewardship of The Institute has transformed this organization…. In short, his tenure has seen The Institute achieve the highest productivity in its nearly half-century of remarkable history.”
The organization continues to present the Jack Felton Golden Ruler Award, “for excellence in public relations measurement and evaluation.”
In 2002, Felton received the Arthur W. Page Society’s Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his contributions to strengthening the role of public relations. In his acceptance speech he made the case for the timeless quality of the Page Principles: “Think how much better our international relations could be if more of our politicians and people in government told the truth. Think how much better our economy would be if more CEOs, chief financial officers, lawyers—and yes, more public relations people—told the truth. And proved it with action. And really managed for the future.”