PR legend Ron Robinson dies at 75

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 928 views 

Legendary public relations executive Ron Robinson has died at the age of 75.

Robinson had a long, storied career in Arkansas business circles, and came to prominence during his affiliation with Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods, now CJRW.

Robinson affiliated with the agency in 1970 full-time after 11 years’ experience both in journalism and as a public information officer. He worked as a sportswriter for the Arkansas Gazette before earning his degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas Fayetteville in 1965. He studied public relations at the Boston University Graduate School of Public Communications.

He served in the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam in several capacities. Robinson achieved the rank of Captain and earned the Bronze Star in Vietnam and the Air Force Commendation Medal for his support in 1969 of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon.

Once an intern at CJRW in the early 1960’s, Robinson helped establish a full-time, full-service public relations division at the agency. He worked for four decades and eventually led the agency as chairman and CEO. He became “of counsel” to the agency in 1996 and was named chairman emeritus in 2009.

“Ron was an iconic figure in the Arkansas marketing and advertising community. The leadership and direction he provided this firm in the 1980s and 1990s helped provide us with a solid foundation that helped CJRW grow into one of the largest agencies in the Southwest. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ron’s family at this most difficult time,” said Darin Gray, CJRW Chairman & CEO.

His professional endeavors have been awarded honors in competitions sponsored by the American and Arkansas Advertising Federation, North American Advertising Network, Public Relations Society of America, the International Association of Business Communicators and the National Public Relations Network.

He also has served on the Southern Regional Board of Directors of the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the AAAA Agency Management Committee. In addition, Robinson has been active in volunteer activities, having served as national communications chairman of The Arthritis Foundation, as vice president of communications for The United Way of Pulaski County and as community advisor to The Junior League of Little Rock. He has served as a member of the American Red Cross Public Information Committee and as a member of the Friends of the Little Rock Zoo’s Board of Directors.

He also is a former member of the Advisory Board of Directors of Our Way, Inc.; the Board of Directors of Superspeech, Inc.; the Board of the Arkansas Branch of the National Alliance of Businessmen; the Board of the Arkansas Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation;  the Board of Trustees of the Arkansas Arts Center; and was communications counselor to the Governor’s Commission on Childcare Development. Robinson has also served as co-chair of the development effort for the Gerald Hamra rehabilitation wing at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

Robinson was a long-time supporter of the Central Arkansas Library System. A cardholder since 1955, he had been active in a number of activities, including:

• Vice Chairman of the CALS Long-Range Planning Committee in 1980-81.
• Member of the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Library for three terms.
• Pro bono consultant to CALS management on the conduct of successful bond issue campaigns over the past 15 years.
• Contributions to CALS, including hundreds of volumes for book sales, a grant to the Children’s Library to honor his grandchildren, consistent gifts and memorials for over 20 years and other avenues.
• Creation of a special exhibit of vintage movie posters and cinema artifacts entitled “Ark In The Dark”.
• Establishment of the “Ronald A. Robinson Collection” with the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies with voluntary transfer of thousands of items related to Arkansas history and culture, including music library, movie posters, art, political/business memorabilia, postal history, etc.

In early 2014, CALS named its new auditorium “The Ron Robinson Theatre.” Located in the River Market, the $10 million facility seats over 300 and has a 40-foot-wide stage and screen.

In the ‘90’s, Robinson was appointed as a member the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Committee at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and previously served on the Business Advisory Committee at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock College of Business Administration.

Robinson was an accredited member since 1971 of the Public Relations Society of American (PRSA) and he was a member of the PRSA Counselors Academy. He was a charter member of the National Public Relations Network, and is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Arkansas Advertising Federation and PRSA. In 1989, the Advertising Federation presented him with its Distinguished Public Service Award for contributions to the communications community.

One of Robinson’s most well-known hobbies included collecting stamps, Arkansas memorabilia and vintage movie posters. He was the founder and charter president of the Pinnacle Stamp Club, the state’s largest philatelic organization. In 1993, he was appointed to the United States Postal Service Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee by the Postmaster General, the group responsible for initial screening and recommendations of topics to be shown on all U.S. postal stamp and card issues. In the fall of 2005, he was named chairman of this national panel, serving until year-end 2008.

From 1997-2002 Robinson was named chairman of CSAC’s Stamp Subject Selection Subcommittee. Regularly meeting in Washington, D.C., this 15-person body annually reviews over 50,000 proposals for the stamp program. During his 15-year tenure with CSAC, he was involved in the creation and production of over 1,750 U.S. stamp issues.

Robinson is survived by one son, Reid, 44, and two granddaughters.