Harris Diamond's move to McCann Worldgroup is great for him, and for the CMG agencies he leaves behind - including his beloved Weber Shandwick, where Andy Polansky rightfully has been elevated to the top spot. It's undeniably good for PR to have one of its own leaders take over a major (albeit troubled) advertising brand.
Nevertheless, I'm not happy that we can no longer claim Diamond as a full-on PR guy any longer, and his absence will be felt in what is still an intimate and evolving profession.
Diamond has been a true professional leader in ways that are not always typical. He has not so much defended the profession against its critics as challenged the legitimacy and accuracy of their claims. Most importantly, Diamond has long refused to perpetuate the defeatism of a profession that is not always well understood by the C-suite. So you've got no seat at the table? Then you must be doing something wrong. You've got to earn it - and you have every opportunity to do so.
Diamond and Weber have been in many ways an essential counterpoint to Richard Edelman and his eponymous firm, representing the most ambitious path forward for PR in the holding company model, in the way that Edelman has set a new high watermark for independents. Weber Shandwick succeeded against everyone's predictions (especially PRWeek's, back in the day), in large part because of his vision, confidence, and determination. It is difficult to explain to those not watching it how very unlikely Weber's glittering future was at the time. It's a case study that should find its way to PR - and business - textbooks.
Diamond chaired the Council of Public Relations Firms during a time of intense scrutiny and stress on PR, and set a standard for industry response to external pressures and for clarity about the values of the profession.
Unlike some who came to it, the PR profession was not Diamond's default - it was always his choice, in reality and in demeanor. Diamond didn't just recognize the potential of PR, he helped create it.
Let's be happy for Diamond, because he will continue to positively influence the reputation of PR, simply by being himself. Our industry is replete with great talent and leaders who are creating an even more exciting future for the profession, many outside of Diamond's sphere. But let's not kid ourselves that there are a million others like him out there - candidly, it's just not true.