NEW YORK: Harvey Greisman, a decades-long veteran of the PR industry, died of a heart attack this past Saturday, February 20. He was 61.
Greisman was visiting his father in a Florida hospice the weekend that he died. His father died the same day, according to longtime friend and colleague, Bob Feldman, founder of PulsePoint Group, whom spoke with the family.
“Harvey was a real gentleman and a real statesman,” said Feldman. “He very much believed in the substance of our profession and was committed to making every organization he was with a better organization.”
Greisman's career spanned a number of in-house communications positions with some of the country's more powerful institutions, including MasterCard, IBM, GTE (now Verizon), Allied Corporation (now Honeywell), and the United Nations.
While at MasterCard, where he held the top PR position as group executive, worldwide communications, Greisman guided communications around the credit card company's IPO in 2006, counseled its executives, and helped forge an integrated global communications platform from public policy issues to social media.
“We were privileged to work with Harvey at MasterCard at an important time in their history when it was taken public,” commented Jack Leslie, chairman of Weber Shandwick, by e-mail. “His deep experience and sound judgment were critical to its successful transition. Harvey was a thoughtful leader in our industry and we will all miss him greatly.”
Greisman had recently left Mastercard after four years and was consulting. Prior to MasterCard, he worked at IBM for eight years as VP of communication for Global Services and Software where he was involved in the company's 2001 global review that slimmed its PR agency roster from dozens to three firms, as well as its acquisition of PricewaterhouseCoopers. Bill Hughes, SVP of corporate communications at CA, worked at IBM with Greisman and has known him for 15 years.
“The guy was probably the most detail-oriented and thorough guy I ever met,” said Hughes. “He was very studied, very thoughtful, very pragmatic. And resolved whenever he made a decision.”
“He's someone who always cared deeply about the role of public relations,” added Rob Flaherty, president at Ketchum. Greisman was a client of Ketchum's both while at IBM and GTE, where he worked in communications for 16 years. “He was very focused on the values that underpin our field as well as the future development of it. He became very focused on social media and how that related to the development of the industry, as well as mentoring.”
His contributions to the industry included serving as a trustee of the Arthur W. Page Society and on the boards of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the Institute for Public Relations (IPR). His colleagues in the PR industry also remember him as a rabid Yankees fan, a Winston Churchill devotee, and a committed husband and father.
A resident of Connecticut and native New Yorker, Greisman is survived by his wife Susan, their two teenage children, and a daughter from a previous marriage.
The funeral will be held at 10am, February 25 at Temple Israel in Westport, CT. Donations in his memory can be made to the Harvey Greisman Memorial Fund with the American Heart Association.