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Roger Hayes - A class PR professional

Roger Hayes, a formidable international public affairs professional, and a fellow of the PRCA has died. He was in his mid-70s.

Roger was my first boss at Burson-Marsteller (B-M) London when I joined the agency in 1979 as an account executive. I had enormous respect for the man.

He worked for Burson-Marsteller during the days of the agency’s great international expansion outside the United States and Europe.

Roger had a fearsome intellect and didn't suffer fools gladly. As a boss he was fair minded, but demanding to work for. He expected excellence. 

B-M was known for its high quality training programmes, indeed it was dubbed the 'University of PR’, and Roger very much embraced that spirit. He wanted to see executives reporting to him excel and display a good breadth of understanding of a client’s business and you could only do that, he argued, with a high quality in-house training programme. 

So it was no surprise to learn that in his later years he was lecturing on the international higher education circuit. He taught public and corporate diplomacy as an associate professor at LKY School of Public Policy, NUS, Singapore. He was also an adviser to MARPE, a pan-European network of academics and professionals aiming to expand students’ understanding of public relations and its practice in the EU and global contexts.

His knowledge of international affairs was awesome, not surprising since in a former life he had been the Paris correspondent of Reuters.

Like many former journalists, he was a great bon viveur, able to work a room and ask the most penetrating of questions. He never lost his journalistic knack and, of course, he had a great news sense and was a superlative storyteller.

He had a quick wit and a cupboard full of stories. He loved an audience and relished imparting his views on global PR strategy. He moved easily in high flying business circles and was not fazed by the most demanding of clients. He would have been very much at home chairing a meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

As a rookie agency consultant in the late 70s and early 80s I learnt a lot from him on client dynamics and international consulting which stood me in very good stead in my future years when I became a board director at the agency in 1987.

He left B-M in 1984 to become corporate communications director for PA Consulting. He then went on to run the PR firm Hayes Macleod with his fellow Echo Research non-executive director Sandra Macleod. Roger became the executive director of the International Institute of Communications. He held senior positions with the British Nuclear Industry Forum, Ford of Europe and Thorn EMI.

Roger was considered one of the forerunners of the international corporate affairs role, including at Ford and Thorn-EMI. 

With a BSc in Economics from the University of London, Roger took a mid-career sabbatical to study for a master’s in international relations at the University of Southern California.

He then completed his Doctorate in Public Relations and Public Diplomacy at Henley Business School, for which he ran executive education seminars in Africa and Asia.

In the 1980s Roger was the founding investor and chair of the first ever PR stakeholder research company Echo Research. He was a member emeritus and past-president of the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) and a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), for which he also acted as chief examiner.

His 2015 book, “Reframing the Leadership Landscape: Creating a Culture of Collaboration” was authored in conjunction with another B-M stalwart Reginald Watts. Reginald had been B-M’s London CEO during Roger’s tenure at the agency. Roger also contributed a chapter on public relations and public diplomacy to the latest edition of the “Global Public Relations Handbook: Theory, Research and Practice”.

Apart from his consulting, teaching and writing/research, Roger was also an adviser for the UN-backed charity Consortium for Street Children.

Most recently he was a senior counsellor for the advisory and advocacy communications consultancy, APCO Worldwide. He served in various roles for several years in London, Johannesburg and Delhi.

Roger was a class PR act and I am shocked that he has left the stage, he still had much to give.

Robert Minton-Taylor, visiting fellow, Leeds Business School, Leeds Beckett University and board director Burson-Marsteller (1979 – 1994).