PR Lessons at a Funeral

Dan Wardby Dan Ward

It’s rare to hear a PR lesson during a eulogy, but that’s exactly what I heard as I listened to Paul J. “Joe” Hegener Jr. eulogize his father, Paul J. “Pete” Hegener, a longtime client and friend who passed way too soon after a bout with cancer.

As Joe began talking about his father, he repeated advice he often heard from Pete’s dear friend and old school publicist, the late Danny Miller.  “Danny always said, keep it to no more than three points.”  So Joe did just that, sharing remembrances of his father’s loyalty, generosity and kindness.

For those of us in the communications field, the “three point” rule is well-known.  It allows a communicator to condense key points into messages that will be heard and remembered.  And the rule works no matter the occasion or audience, from a corporate presentation or community groundbreaking to weddings and funerals.

Loyal, generous and kind.  Pete Hegener was all these things and more.  To his employees, he was a trusted advisor and mentor.  To his community, he was a visionary leader.  And to Curley & Pynn, he was a dear and loyal friend who allowed us to do big things.

As I look back over the 20 years I’ve worked in this profession, some of my strongest memories involve Pete.

I was with him on the day none of us will ever forget, 9/11, and his calming presence helped many of us deal with the horror we were witnessing.

I was in his office when the Burnham Institute chose Orlando over Pete’s Town of Tradition in Port St. Lucie, and witnessed the competitive fire of a man who within hours closed a deal to secure the Florida headquarters of the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies.

My colleagues and I were given countless opportunities by Pete to lead events, to announce major news and to manage award-winning programs.  He made us part of his team, he listened to our advice and he treated every member of our team with respect.

Pete was loyal, he was generous, he was kind, and he will be sorely missed.

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