Albert H. Fulcher | Editor
Journalism and public relations in today’s media industry go hand in hand. With the ever-growing need for the integrity of news, these two professions merged, making an impact on community and national levels. At the 45th annual San Diego Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards on Oct. 30, a prominent local public relations professional earned one of the Press Club’s most prestigious awards for his life of dedication to the field of communications.
Jack Berkman, CEO and President of Berkman Strategic Communications, chosen by his peers, earned the Andy Mace Award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Relations. Berkman has earned more than 70 Bernays awards from the San Diego Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), plus the national PRSA Silver Anvil Award. Berkman is a long time Downtown resident.
Andy Mace, who passed away in 2009, is credited with the idea of starting the San Diego Press Club. He was a long-time PacBell communications director, whose ethics, integrity and trust was ever present in his professional conduct and unyielding support of the San Diego Press Club for more than 30 years.
His namesake award is given to a PR practitioner who, over the course of his or her career, has exemplified fairness and integrity, and has effectively disseminated the truth to concerned publics.
Gayle Falkenthal, Falcon Valley Group president, San Diego Press Club Board emeritus and previous Andy Mace Award recipient, nominated Berkman for the Andy Mace Award.
Falkenthal said that there is no one that she knows who represents the highest principles of the public relations profession better than Berkman.
“For 40 years, Jack has helped many journalists understand what principled public relations is all about with the upmost respect for truth and transparency,” Falkenthal said.
Along with the many awards and accolades that Berkman has received throughout his career, Falkenthal said that Berkman’s greatest asset is his generosity, and that the Press Club is one of the many recipients of that generosity.
“Jack immediately joined the Press Club upon his arrival to San Diego in 1973,” Falkenthal said. “Jack served as this organization’s first non-journalist president, which means he was elected by the journalists in this club. He’s given time over the years since as master of ceremonies, auctioneer and he has attended and participated in too many programs to count.”
With the PRSA and the PRSA San Diego and Imperial Counties, Falkenthal said that Berkman has year after year, participated as a presentation analyst, a program mentor and he has always been a “cheerleader for inspiring PR pros.”
“Let’s face it. There are many journalists that aspire to become one of us,” Falkenthal said. “Jack will take every single call he gets from a journalist for advice. He hired and trained more PR people in San Diego, including transitioning journalists than anyone else I can remember. He never sees you [journalists] as competition. He always knows there is room for good work, no matter what. He is a savvy modern communicator in every way. He is also a very human being. I can think of no one who is a better representative of the public relations profession, and Jack, we have been very fortunate to have you as a leader for the Press Club throughout the current modern era.”
Berkman is a national multi-award-winning PR/communications and branding firm representing some of the most prestigious clients in their respective fields, regionally and nationally. He started his own small public relations agency in the late ’70s and later partnered with Dick Daniels. They specialized in the real estate industry. He later moved out on his own again, starting Berkman Strategic Communications.
“Berkman and Daniels became a household word in PR and advertising world, representing 20 development companies in Southern California and grew it into the largest firm in San Diego,” Berkman said.
Thriving through four recessions, and many changes, Berkman passed his accreditation for the Public Relations Society of America in 1975 and in 2012 was inducted as a Fellow in the Society, which is the highest honor received in this organization.
“Along the way I have been very involved in many non-profit boards,” Berkman said. “I’ve had the great satisfaction of working in this community with so many great organizations.”
In the early ’80s, Berkman recognized the importance of working with the journalism community. He worked with the press in television, radio, and especially print.
“I became very involved in the Press Club in many ways because it was important to all of us, and it felt good,” Berkman said. “And Andy [Mace] was a pillar in the Press Club. We worked together for a long time. I had such a high regard for Andy. I think one of the reasons I respected Andy so much was his extraordinary demeanor. He was always a gentleman, a rather low-key guy and he helped create a good understanding in the relationship between public relations and its community and the working press. And so much for who he stood for as a person with integrity, trust, a man of his word and he had a commitment in making the Press Club as good of an organization as it could be. When he passed on it was not only a loss for the Press Club but for the entire public relations community and all those that he touched during his life.”
Berkman said he loves what he does and strives to do it at the highest level. He said he has no plans on stopping his passion for public relations until the day comes when he just cannot do it anymore.
“For me, this is a singular honor. I am extraordinarily proud that this organization, which I have supported and believed in for many years has chosen me for an award that stand for what Andy Mace stood for. That, to me, is a feeling that is hard to describe in terms of gratitude,” Berkman said.
—Albert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.