Bill Nielsen: Hall of Fame 2014

Former corporate VP, Johnson & Johnson

Bill Nielsen retired as corporate VP of Johnson & Johnson in December 2004, after nearly 16 years with the company.

As an officer of the corporation reporting to its chairman and CEO, he was the chief PR and corporate communications officer for the diversified and decentralized group of 200+ operating companies in 57 countries in pharmaceuticals and biotech, medical devices, and diagnostics and consumer products.

Nielsen joined Johnson & Johnson in 1988 following an 18-year career as a PR agency consultant, first with Carl Byoir & Associates, from 1970 to 1986, and then Hill & Knowlton. In addition to executive roles in agency management, he specialized in corporate communications and crisis management in such industries as consumer finance, insurance, defense, biotech, and airlines.

Nielsen led an eight-year PR and advertising education program for the pharmaceutical industry, and a nationwide child injury prevention initiative, the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, which reduced the annual rate of unintended injury and death among children by nearly 30 percent.

He continues to be active in the leadership of professional PR organizations, serving two terms as president of the Arthur W. Page Society, where he was inducted into its Hall of Fame in September 2003.

He is a past chairman of The Seminar, chaired the board of the IPR, and served on the board of directors and executive committee of the Global Public Affairs Institute. He continues to serve on the board of the Page Society and committee of The Seminar, and is a member of The Wisemen, National Press Club, Foreign Press Association, and PRSA.

Nielsen won four PRSA Silver Anvils. He is a trustee board member of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In October 2003, he delivered the Distinguished Vernon C. Schranz Lecture at Ball State University.

Nielsen is also a trustee of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and served on the board of the Foundation of Children’s Hospital, National Medical Center, Washington, DC, for eight years.

A native of Sacramento, California, following graduation from Oregon State University he served for five years as a public information officer with the US Air Force in Washington, DC, and Japan. He is married and the father of three daughters.

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