[Editor's Note: PRNEWS received word of the passing of our dear friend and colleague, Mark Weiner, earlier this week. Mark wrote dozens of articles for PRNEWS, with an expert focus in the measurement realm. He also presented at many of our data and measurement events, helping other professionals understand the importance of this skill for public relations, and served to develop the PRNEWS Measurement Hall of Fame (to which he was also an honoree). We send our thoughts to Mark's family, friends and colleagues all over the world. Tina McCorkindale, president and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations, worked closely with Mark, and graciously offered this tribute.]
On Sunday, Dec. 10, we lost a great in our industry, Mark Weiner. I have received many emails, texts and calls since Mark died, sharing the positive impact he had on different lives. He had many, many friends, admirers and mentees in the industry—he was the “Kevin Bacon” or the great connector of the PR world.
In 1997, Mark helped start the Institute for Public Relations Measurement Commission, devoted to educating the industry about measurement and insights. He served as the director for two terms and helped build our Commission into what it is today. He was an IPR Trustee and a member of many industry organizations, including the Page Society and the Museum of PR.
I met Mark more than 20 years ago, and to be honest, I was kind of scared of him. He seemed very serious and intimidating. When I told him that after we became friends, he said he had a medical scare that changed his life, and how he was as a person. He became the Mark who I knew. He was funny, kind and fiercely passionate about PR.
Outside of his family, I do believe the PR field was one of the most important things in his life. With his love of the field was the love of the people within it. He was always lifting people up, which is evident by the current outpouring of love from many friends and colleagues since his death.
Mark was inspired by words of wisdom from mentors or even places he went that influenced how he lived his life. He would say, “I’d rather be approximately right than totally wrong” when talking about measurement. He also learned from one of his mentors, “I would gladly forgo being a proven success in exchange for never being a proven failure.”
One of his favorite quotes that he saw on a sandwich board outside Ojai, Calif. was “Begin Simply or Simply Begin.” As a self-proclaimed procrastinator, Mark was inspired by that phrase to take small steps to complete tasks and projects. All these stuck with him, and he truly lived all of them in his day-to-day work with clients.
I was looking through my text messages with Mark recently and remembered some funny stories. He once was napping (he loved naps) and didn’t show up for a call with me. He said that was okay because when he was napping, he dreamt he was actually on our call. I told him that in his dreams, I hoped I answered all the questions the way he wanted me to.
After I suffered a concussion in May 2022, he texted me his well wishes and said, “I’ve always believed your brain was too big for your skull…and now this.” He would also break out the dad jokes with his last name, “Weiner,” by offering hot dog puns like, “Don’t you just RELISH it?” or “I can’t think of anything WURST.”
Mark was so good about checking in with his friends. He always remembered my birthday and my oldest son’s birthday (who shared his birthday on May 4). He also would text me at the end of the year, sending his blessings for the following year. He always sent me words of encouragement during our IPR events.
I look back gratefully on the time I spent with Mark—we co-hosted several conferences, taught research boot camps, wrote IPR signature studies and penned a column together for Ragan Communications for several years. I was so honored when he asked me to write the foreword of his latest book, "PR Technology, Data and Insights: Igniting a Positive Return on Your Communications Investment." We also filmed an episode of “In A Car with IPR” together in 2019.
One of my fondest memories is when Mark received the IPR Jack Felton Medal for Lifetime Achievement. He was so proud of receiving that award. He told me that was a career highlight because it showed his career had an impact, and he made a difference in others’ lives. His wife Braden Bledsoe (whom he always referred to as his bride) gave a stunning introduction and revealed closer to the end that she, as a fellow communicator and marketer, knew him so well because she was married to him. His children, Graham and Cameron, were both there, and it was a happy, memorable moment.
That award was so well deserved and demonstrated how many lives Mark touched with his humility, kindness and sense of humor in the spirit of former IPR CEO Jack Felton, whom he admired. Mark was a champion of measurement. He also won a spot in the PRNEWS Measurement Hall of Fame (and nominated me for it several years later).
Anytime I asked Mark for anything, he would say, “yes,” no matter how busy he was. He always made time. He was so warm, caring and mindful of the feelings of others.
In 2019, Mark and I filmed an “In A Car with IPR” program together that I watched while writing this piece. In a clip we added to the Deleted Scenes, I asked him, “If God does exist, what do you want him or her to say as you enter the pearly gates?” and he said, “Welcome! With a big smile.” And in the style of “The Kinks” song he loved, he added, “And welcome back. This is where you belong.”
Other tributes from friends and colleagues of Mark:
“Mark and I met about 25 years ago. He was already a luminary using data to solve communication problems. His ability to break down complex matters into actionable and measurable tactics to support strategy was a tool and a skill so many have, thanks to him. He wrote two books, sharing his intellect and inspiring generations.
This week, we lost an icon and a friend. Ironically, as impressive as his career was, it was not the 'measure' of the man. He was kind, loyal, generous, gracious, courteous, thoughtful, humble and funny. SO FUNNY! And last but not least, he possessed a great capacity for love. When he spoke of his wife and sons, his intensity manifested even more depth to his piercing blue eyes. Mark was a beautiful soul; we are all smarter and better for knowing him.” Johna Burke, FAMEC, CEO & Global Managing Director, AMEC
“I had the good fortune of working with Mark over the years, first while at Mastercard and again at KPMG.
Mark dedicated his life to solving the ever-elusive challenge of quantifying the work we all do. While the impact of his professional work will be lasting, his true legacy is that of a world-class human being.
In fact, the true 'measure' of Mark’s impact is the remarkable relationships he built. He supported and championed the work of others not only by quantifying its value, but in his generosity of time, expertise, friendship and humor he brought to every interaction.
Mark was a kind and caring soul. I was proud to call him a friend. I, along with so many others, will miss him greatly.” Chris Monteiro, Head of Americas PR, Wise
"For someone who spent the majority of his career helping organizations do a better job measuring their results, and like me—constantly asserting that everything was measurable—it is is not without a huge sense of irony that I sat down to evaluate the impact that Mark had on our industry and realized the only word to describe it is 'immeasurable.'
He was a true pioneer in the field, always making the case for better, more reliable metrics—from the early days of the IPR Measurement Commission, to helping give birth to the Barcelona Principles, to helping create some of the most sophisticated communications measurement systems in the world.
At various times we were fierce competitors, colleagues, rivals and collaborators, and through it all he kept his sense of humor, his compassion and his kindness. He will be sorely missed." Katie Paine, CEO and founder, Paine Publishing, founder and member, Institute for Public Relations Measurement Commission.
Mark will be missed by all. I hope you rest in peace, Mark. Thank you for all you have done for us. We are better for it, and I hope you are where you belong.
Tina McCorkindale, Ph.D., is president and CEO of Institute for Public Relations (IPR).