Editorial: Honoring John Gulick

John Gulick, who died late last month, had a lot to teach people about public relations.

He served as a communications director with Computer Sciences Corp. for 10 years and also worked with numerous other high-tech firms. He also spent 20 years in the Air Force working in public affairs.

But it was not his experience that made Gulick different; it was his ability to distill that experience into a basic philosophy about the value and conduct of public communications.

The primary tenet of his philosophy was this: Information is more important than spin. Gulick was not naïve. He preached the value of PR as a strategic investment. "In the simplest of terms, PR means winning and sustaining business," he wrote with fellow PR guru David Shea in their book, "Media Isn't a Four-Letter Word."

But Gulick also realized that one of the vital functions of PR is education. A clear message can still be garbled by a reporter who does not understand the basic issues. Many organizations, in both the public and private sectors, rely on press releases to deliver information. Information, though, does not always translate into understanding.

During his career, Gulick helped many reporters by getting them access to experts who could explain the nuances of particular stories. In some cases, his clients did not benefit directly, because the interviews were only for background information. But he knew that their interests and the public's were best served by a well-informed media.

Gulick's sophisticated approach to PR will leave a lasting impression on many of us who dealt with him over the years.

More striking, though, was his professional demeanor — a curious blend of intelligence, confidence and humor that might best be described as an affable dignity. The circumstances in which reporters called Gulick were sometimes unpleasant, but Gulick never was.

Here at Federal Computer Week, we join the federal technology community in mourning the loss of this elder statesman.

John Monroe, Editor

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group