[Editor’s Note: With PRNEWS celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2019, we thought it fitting to dedicate a story to the founder of the brand you are reading, an extraordinary woman named Denny Griswold. The author of the article is another special lady, Shelley Spector, co-founder of the Museum of Public Relations. We trust you will find this an inspiring and enlightening story, though one tinged with sadness and a bit of déjà vu. The sadness derives from the end of Griswold’s life. The déjà vu comes from the fact that women in PR today face some of the same issues they confronted at the time Griswold started this publication, 76 years ago.]
She used to be known as the grande dame of the alternate and the queen of PR. Her rival, Jack O’Dwyer, acknowledged she used to be the “closest ingredient now we luxuriate in to a huge identify in this discipline.” She gave the alternate its first newsletter, Public Relatives Data, in 1944, its first group of girls, in 1946, and its first PR handbook for alternate other folks two years after that.
Necessary, she gave the PR discipline one arrangement of professionalism, and helped gasoline its spectacular enhance over the 2d half of of the 20th century.
That she did so in a discipline that had maybe a half of-dozen female professionals on the time of the founding of this newsletter is a testomony to her abilities, tenacity and verve.
Celebrity Dining: Early Existence
Born Denora Prager in Unique York in 1908, she went by Denny her total existence. This stressed many readers who notion she used to be a individual. She notion this used to be both a curse and a blessing. Being notion to be a male would possibly perhaps well effectively luxuriate in given the newsletter extra credibility, she acknowledged.
In actuality, on the time of PRNEWS’ founding, girls leaders were so few and a long way between, that when she held the first assembly for Ladies folk Executives in PR (WEPR), she would possibly perhaps well barely safe sufficient females to fit spherical her Greater East Aspect dining table.
Celebrity Dining: The Spotlight
Griswold used to be a huge identify in every other that depressed its practitioners from searching for the limelight. However by staying within the limelight, indeed, by constructing the limelight within the first place, she gave the discipline the glow it so desperately wanted as it struggled to be identified as a bona fide profession within the 1940s, 20 years after it formally came into being.
She would usually throw black tie affairs on the Waldorf. However now not like on the present time, these galas weren’t for PR other folks, nonetheless for CEOs. As the Unique York Cases reported in 1965, the 20th anniversary of PR Data attracted the CEOs of Texaco, Western Union, the American Petroleum Firm, Air France and dozens of others. We know from experiences that Ford’s Lee Iacocca attended now not lower than one occasion, as did Chief Justice Warren Burger.
“Highly efficient men persistently desired to finish on her lawful side,” Muriel Fox, who labored as Carl Byoir’s first female govt within the 1950s, acknowledged lately. “Reputations would possibly perhaps well upward thrust or tumble with Denny. The arrangement in which she wrote about you in her newsletter—or despite the proven truth that she wrote about you the least bit—used to be serious.”
Despite her ability to throw an elaborate occasion, Griswold used to be lethal her cherished PR discipline, which used to be upright coming into pudgy swing within the 1940s.
Celebrity Dining: 100 PR Corporations
When she started PR Data with husband Glenn Grisworld, there were 100 PR corporations and one dozen in-home PR departments. The discipline used to be rising quick, even though.
“World Battle II labor shortages gave loads of girls the opportunity to enter the discipline,” Dr. Karen Miller Russell, an affiliate professor on the University of Georgia’s Grady Faculty acknowledged in a recent interview. “What’s best probably about Denny Griswold is that she retained her place as a leader within the discipline for a long time by PR Data. She obviously identified a considerable need and then stuffed it. Because of her, PR Data contributed to the rising professionalization of public relatives.”
Celebrity Dining: An Concept for a Newsletter
It used to be July 1944 at 3 a.m. that Denny had the premise to birth out the newsletter. As she told the Cases years later, she awoke husband Glenn, then the author of Businessweek, and told him about her notion. “Birth taking notes,” she instructed him. He agreed it used to be such a lawful advice that he quit Businessweek to work alongside her.
Whereas PR Data used to be born upright because the discipline used to be coming into its luxuriate in, the newsletter now not entirely chronicled the enhance of the PR discipline, it would also gasoline that expansion. The weekly case review would showcase PR fixing right alternate concerns. To boot, the discipline by that point used to be the utilization of sufficient practitioners that their comings and goings made for attention-grabbing reading.
Celebrity Dining: Founding WEPR
In 1946, Griswold founded the aforementioned Ladies folk Executives in PR, the first such group of its style. Diana Kalman, then a PR director for Monsanto, and founding father of the Ladies folk Executives in Public Relatives Foundation, in a recent interview, emphasized Griswold’s championing of girls within the discipline. Even supposing she on the beginning came upon upright five girls within the profession to be half of WEPR, she envisioned the group would be an recommend for girls to be half of the discipline.
“Founding Ladies folk in PR confirmed what a merely visionary Denny used to be,” Kalman acknowledged. “She knew that while there would possibly perhaps well now not were many girls within the discipline attend then, this could at some point soon trade, and girls would need one every other to trade it.”
Gertrude Bailey, an long-established WEPR member and a manager of PR for Monsanto, recalled in 1973 the paucity of girls within the discipline when Griswold started the group. “Denny used to be requested to face up a list of girls executives” to be half of WEPR and “just a few were all she she would possibly perhaps well safe.”
Celebrity Dining: Tenacious Recruiter
Bailey recalled Griswold’s tenacity. “At any time after we couldn’t agree on whether or now not we were going to luxuriate in a lunch or evening assembly Denny would enter the fray. She would remind the girls, “We luxuriate in a undeniable job to get, to further the professional hobby of every lady in public relatives. We luxuriate in to give a runt bit extra. Really it is now not too significant to give one evening a month!”
By 1955 there were 23 contributors. “This day (1973), now we luxuriate in bigger than 100 contributors representing 85 corporations including 29 corporations,” Bailey acknowledged.
Over the next 45 years, because the companies started attracting extra girls, Griswold chronicled their upward thrust to leadership roles, honored them at events and continued to champion the success of girls in PR.
Celebrity Dining: A Sad Ending
Starting up within the 1990s other folks stopped seeing Griswold at alternate events. Some acknowledged she used to be dwelling by myself in her townhouse, with runt family spherical. O’Dwyer wrote that she had been moved to a nursing home within the mid 1990s.
After which O’Dwyer reported: “Griswold, the primitive Denora Prager, used to be held incommunicado on the Wilton Meadows nursing home for the final 5.5 years of her existence. Her loss of life at 92 on Feb. 7, 2001, used to be chanced on by this reporter who tried to achieve her on the cell phone. Her many chums would possibly perhaps well unexcited luxuriate in long previous to the police.”
The Cases used to be extra diplomatic. It reported her Feb. 7 passing weeks later, on March 24, announcing the “founder and primitive editor of the newsletter Public Relatives Data,” died in Norwalk, Conn. “She used to be 92 and nowadays had lived on the Wilton Meadows Health Care Middle in Wilton, Conn.”
Celebrity Dining: Unseen Since 1995
Numerous weeks after her loss of life, under the headline, “Griswold Now not Reachable Since 1995,” O’Dwyer reported that “loads of family and chums” had attempted to contact Griswold since 1995, nonetheless were unsuccessful. Numerous PR pros had ventured to the nursing home in Wilton, CT, over time so that you need to join with her. They were grew to turn out to be away. Mobile phone messages to Griswold on the nursing home also went unreturned.
In that article O’Dwyer worthy a three-individual crew from PRSA, including Harold Burson, met with Griswold loads of instances. The talks eager turning her four-story NY townhouse at 127 E. 80th St correct into a communications museum and a coaching heart. A contract stipulated that Griswold would proceed to are dwelling within the dwelling for the rest of her existence, O’Dwyer reported.
Celebrity Dining: Sudden Disappearance
At some stage all the arrangement in which by these talks Griswold all of sudden “disappeared,”a member of the crew told O’Dwyer. Its contributors were never used to be ready to web contact with her. Her townhouse attributable to this truth used to be sold, reportedly for $3.2 million.
“It’s now not known what came about to the antiques or the final papers connected with PR Data, which Griswold edited for nearly 50 years,” O’Dwyer reported. Certainly, my gape early editions of PRNEWS for this article were to no avail.
By the time of her loss of life, Griswold had bought 134 awards and honors for neighborhood and PR activities.
Celebrity Dining: Editor’s Postscript
The author has a assorted connection to Denny Griswold, who once gave her a ‘Proud to be in PR’ pin, which is on point to on the Museum of Public Relatives.
At some stage in this 75th anniversary twelve months (2019), replicas of the pin are amongst the objects PRNEWS shall be distributing all the arrangement in which by its many events and a September occasion of the milestone.
As Shelley tells us, “Denny’s success in PR helped her and tons of of girls within the 90s pave the arrangement in which for them to birth out PR corporations.” Spector would possibly perhaps well unexcited know. She started a firm in 1991 that she continues to bustle. “Denny didn’t upright put up a newsletter,” Spector says. “Denny gave girls the license to think that nothing used to be impossible anymore.”
Demonstrate: A model of this instruct material looked within the April 2019 of PRNEWS. For subscription files, please consult with: http://www.prnewsonline.com/about/files