Gini Dietrich

Rest in Peace, Arthur Yann

By: Gini Dietrich | June 17, 2013 | 

Rest in Peace, Arthur YannOn Thursday night, Arthur Yann was on the train home from the reception before Silver Anvils when he suffered a massive heart attack and passed away. He was 48.

I first met Arthur in the same way I’ve met many of you…here on this blog.

As the vice president of public relations for our industry’s trade organization – the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) – Arthur had the unenviable job of answering to more than 20,000 professionals.

Professionals like me who are extremely vocal about what the organization is (or is not) doing for the industry. Professionals who think they know best. Professionals who have a platform and a megaphone.

In May of 2011, when some of our peers from Burson-Marsteller were found to have created a whisper campaign against Google on behalf of Facebook, I was on a rampage about kicking them out of PRSA and not allowing them to continue to work in the field.

It was Arthur who called me to explain, while my efforts were noble, PRSA is a membership organization and not a regulatory one so there wasn’t much they could do.

He was the one who talked me off the ledge and helped me soften my tone…and even engaged in many months-long discussion about whether or not we could regulate the industry so those things didn’t happen.

He led the charge to redefine what it is that we do…taking on a huge project as the previous definition was 30 years old and many of were very active in how to redefine what we do not for today, but for the future.

I remember seeing him at a reception during the middle of the project and asking him how it was going. He said, with a grin and a twinkle in his eye, “Let’s just say I could use a bottle of scotch.”

Scotch he received, which ingratiated me to him for life.

An accredited member of PRSA, of Counselors Academy, and both an agency leader and a corporate professional, Arthur spent his entire career years talking the vocal PR pros off the ledge with humor and a booming laugh that was infectious.

For my friends who knew him well – Greg Pitkoff, Ken Jacobs, and Keith Trivitt – I’m very sorry for your loss.

For his wife, Amy, and their daughter, Sophia, your husband and father meant a great deal to our industry. He will be sorely missed.

For information on the memorial, PRSA will update here as they learn more.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

  • This is really sad. I wish I had known him! This is a reminder that we don’t know how much time we’re allotted. We must make a difference while we can and not get so lost in the details that we forget the big picture. xoxo

    • KateFinley It is really sad. Shocking, really.

  • What a sad event. Nothing hurts worse than an unexpected death of someone. My thoughts are with his friends and family.

    • aimeelwest I know…Martin Waxman and I were talking about it on Saturday. It’s such a shock.

  • Sorry to hear this, 48 is way too young.

    • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Waaaaaaay too young.

  • debdobson62

    How very sad to hear this.  I didn’t know him, but such a loss for his family and friends at such a young age.  He sounds like a really good guy.

    • debdobson62 He was a very good guy and a great force for our industry.

  • Oh, condolences on this loss, to those intimately involved in his life and those in an industry who he clearly touched even without knowing everyone individually. My brother in law just had a heart attack at 50 (he’s doing pretty well now…) and a dear friend just evaded what is typically called “the widowmaker” via a well-timed double bypass. Both of those events, and situations such as the loss of Arthur, are the kinds of things that should give us all the impetus to appreciate every second of joy we can and to not let the mundane/irritating/petty rob us of that. With his booming laugh (and his scotch) sounds like Arthur used his moments well. RIP.

    • biggreenpen It really puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

  • Wow condolences to the PRSA and his family. Very touching ginidietrich and very nice for you to write this up. Makes one value the things in life so much more.

  • gomezdm

    Thanks Gini for your kind words about Arthur. He certainly was a man to be reckoned with (pardon the cliche). He challenged me on so many levels when it came to work, and I’m sure I challenged him on a few projects. Yet, when I needed the ear of a mentor and friend, he easily gave me his attention and concern. He was as straightforward as they come, and that’s what I think I appreciated most about him. I haven’t heard that booming laugh since I left PRSA last year, but the memories of his laugh and smile will never fade.

    • gomezdm Hey Diane! So nice to see you here. I’m sorry this is the reason for our reconnecting. I hope you’re well!

      • gomezdm

        ginidietrich gomezdm Doing well in my new position — and I have to say, Arthur prepped me well. Hope you are doing well.

  • Good God, 48!!?? {glances at pack of smokes} What a tragedy, so so young. 🙁

    • belllindsay Yes, please consider that smoking habit of yours.

  • John_Trader1

    I’m saddened by this loss but won’t let that dim the memory of the progress and excellence of Arthur’s life. I know “of” him and the work he has done. I’ll always remember that. Thanks for the tribute Gini.

    • John_Trader1 The good thing about the work he did is his legacy will live on. I didn’t always agree with him, but I respected the heck out of him.

  • susancellura

    Very sad. His family and friends are in my thoughts. Too young.

    • susancellura Much, much too young. It kind of scares me a little bit.

      • susancellura

        ginidietrich It is scary when someone so young is taken away from us. Yet, it can be a reminder to live life to its fullest every day, especially when you can do what you love and know your family and friends love you as much as you love them. Don’t let the silly drama overshadow what’s important to you. 🙂

      • ginidietrich susancellura It’s a wakeup call to spend time with the people who are important to us, and not put it off.

  • It is truly a detriment to our profession that he was ripped away so soon.  Arthur was a very generous man with his time and knowledge.  I first met him as a student and, like you, we bonded over a glass of scotch (or many).  I will miss his advice and wit.  
    Thank you for such a lovely post in his remembrance.

    • HeatherTweedy Such another great thing about him – he was so generous with his time. I mean, what big wig spends time with students like that? Amazing.

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  • photo chris

    My sympathies are with you Gini- and the rest of the community who knew him. He sounds like a wonderful friend and mentor to have had; it’s very sad.

    • photo chris It’s just so shocking, you know? Very, very sad indeed.

      • photo chris

        ginidietrich photo chris I do, actually. When someone so “big” (and by this I mean loved and respected who touches so many)  is suddenly just, gone, there is a hole left in the universe that never closes or fills. The part about his daughter’s 3rd birthday in comments made me cry. My son JUST turned 3, on the 11th; I couldn’t imagine his life without his father in it; or what I would do if he just *poof* were gone.

  • Well said Gini. Arthur is one of those friends you kind of take for granted. You know he’s there when you need him. I’m counting on continuing to guide all of us as we tackle the big challenges in his name. A very good soul lost way too soon. I am sad on so many levels but especially for the lights of his life Amy and little Sofia, whose third birthday party was to be Saturday.

    • mdbarber When I heard her birthday party was supposed to be Saturday, it made me even more sad. I know she won’t remember it, but I know he wouldn’t have wanted it that way.

      • ginidietrich I agree. I thought my heart had already sunk pretty low with the news itself but it went so much lower with that.

  • What a beautiful tribute ginidietrich! I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Arthur, but he sounds like we lost one of the good ones. I am so sad for his family and close friends. It is so hard to lose someone like that and 48 is way too young. (Not that there’s ever a good time…) Prayers for his wife and young daughter. Tragic.

    • TaraGeissinger It is tragic. It makes me sad.

  • Never met Arthur, but knew a couple of people who worked with him and I admired him from afar. Nothing but good things to say about the guy.

  • KeithTrivitt

    Well said, Gini, and thank you for this touching tribute. Arthur was a wonderful person, a great mentor and someone I was fortunate to call a close friend. His passing has stunned me, as it has so many others, and the outpouring of love that so many have expressed just goes to show the profoundly positive impact he had on many people’s lives and careers. 
    He will be dearly missed.

    • KeithTrivitt I’m very, very sorry for your loss, Keith. I know what a good friend he was.

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  • Kathy Van Duzer

    I worked with Arthur a decade ago and was impressed by his professionalism, kindness, and overall business sense within Pr.  Sorry to hear of such a great guy befalling such a tragedy.  RIP in deed and best wishes to his family.

  • Ken Bauco

    I am sorry to hear about the loss of Arthur. I worked with him while I was interning in College at Nichol and Company about 15 years ago. I remember him well, I recall his great sense of humor, and willingness to teach me about the business.  I have seen him several times over the years, and he has always greeted me with a smile. I am terribly sorry that we lost him so early, and I pray for his family and friends.

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  • Saw today’s Inside PR post, so I re-read your beautiful tribute to Arthur. Though starting Saturday with tears wasn’t what I’d planned, it was a great reminder of a life well lived.