Jack Donoghue

Jack Donoghue APR
1916 – 2001
Calgary, Alberta

Career Highlights
Jack Donoghue was one of the deans of public relations in Canada. He was also a medal winning swimmer and diver, private pilot and accomplished football player turning down a contract from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League to pursue higher education.

Born in 1916 in Kingston, Ontario, Jack grew up in Winnipeg. Though his first career choice was medicine, the Depression made the cost beyond his means. So instead, he attended the University of Manitoba (St. Paul’s College), graduating with a B.A. majoring in English and Philosophy in 1939. He worked as a reporter and editor with British United Press (formerly UPI) in Vancouver and Winnipeg from 1935 to 1942 during and after his time in university.

In July 1942 during World War II, he joined the Canadian Army as a private and five months later was commissioned as an officer, transferring overseas to Britain.

Leading up to D-Day, he served at Supreme Allied Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force, and was one of the architects of the system that brought news and film footage from the Normandy beaches to the world hours after the invasion began.  Canadian film footage of the invasion shot by the Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit were the first images of D-Day to be shown in theatres around the world.

In August 1944, Jack transferred to Northwest Europe to serve as a Conducting Officer, taking war correspondents and photographers to the front and arranging media briefings by senior military commanders. His last appointment during the war was as Assistant Editor of the Canadian Army newspaper The Maple Leaf.
He returned to Winnipeg in June 1945, was promoted Captain and served as a Public Relations Officer at army headquarters. In 1946, he won his wings after successfully completing the Army's parachute course.

In 1950 during the devastating Manitoba Flood, Jack coordinated information and public relations for the Army, which was active in emergency operations in support of the civilian authorities. The next year, he was promoted to Major and took over as Commanding Officer, No. 1 Canadian Army Public Relations Unit, based in Winnipeg.

Jack returned to Europe in 1954 as Commanding Officer, No. 1 Canadian Army Public Relations Unit with the Army's occupation forces based in Soest, Germany. Upon returning to Canada he attended and graduated from Canadian Army Staff College in Kingston in 1956 and was posted to the Directorate of Public Relations (Army), Army Headquarters, Ottawa.

In 1960 he was promoted Lieutenant Colonel and seconded to the Privy Council Office, Emergency Measures Organization to develop The Emergency Public Information Services Plan for peace and war completed in 1963. Jack then returned to the Army and in 1964 was appointed Director, Public Relations (Army).
A year later, he was honorably released and joined the federal government's Department of Manpower and Immigration in Ottawa as Deputy Director, Information Services.

In 1968 Jack was loaned to Treasury Board to take part in developing a Career Assignment Program for the federal public service before taking over as Director, Information Services for the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources in 1970.

In 1972 he was once again loaned to Treasury Board to produce a Career Plan and Manpower Guidelines for federal government information officers that was christened The Donoghue Report. It was still in use more than 35 years after its completion.

Jack left the public service in 1973 to move to Calgary and join the public relations and advertising agency Francis, Williams & Johnson Ltd. (FWJ) led by John Francis where he served as Director, Public Relations and was quickly promoted to Vice-President, Public Relations. In 1981 Jack became semi-retired but maintained his connection with FWJ as Senior Consultant.

In his 20 years of retirement, Jack wrote two books, The Edge of War published in 1988 about his war time experiences as a Canadian Army Public Relations Officer and PR: 50 Years in the Field published in 1993 about key events in Canadian public relations history in which he took part.

In 2000, Jack was instrumental in developing the PR in War exhibition first at the Museum of the Regiments in Calgary and then at the Provincial Museum in Edmonton (now the Royal Alberta Museum). The exhibition told the story of the courage, skill and patriotism of Public Relations Units, the Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit and war correspondents during the Second World War who were instrumental in providing the credible link between the soldiers at the front and the people at home in Canada.

Major Achievements
  • Army Public Relations and Information Strategy, Manitoba Flood, 1950
  • Emergency Public Information Services Plan, Government of Canada, 1963
  • Career Assignment Program for the federal public service, 1968
  • Career Plan and Manpower Guidelines for federal information officers, 1972
  • Federal Public Service Award of Merit, 1972
  • Canadian Public Relations Society Award of Attainment, 1974
  • Canadian Public Relations Society Shield of Public Service, 1991
  • Author, The Edge of War, 1988, Detselig Enterprises ISBN 0-920490-75-1
  • Author, PR: Fifty Years in the Field,1993, Dundurn Press ISBN1-55002-164-8
Professional and Community Service
  • Canadian Public Relations Society
  • Knights of Columbus
  • Canadian War Correspondents' Association
  • The Lord Strathcona's Horse Officers' Mess
  • The Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Officers' Mess
  • The Royal Canadian Military Institute
REFLECTIONS ON JACK

Jack Donoghue was the personification of ethics and a strong advocate of education and career development. He was universally admired for his patience, iron determination, faith in the abilities of the young, mentoring and his willingness to always be ready to help.

He was a man far ahead of his time. He completed a university degree in 1939 at a time many didn't even complete high school. He emphasized education for his three daughters when women were encouraged to marry and forego careers to quickly have children.

Jack encouraged and mentored young PR practitioners: guiding, advising, directing and nurturing their careers; assigning them projects that stretched their minds; and allowing them to develop new skills and grow professionally and personally.

His son, Tom was one of them; he followed in his dad's footsteps, entering public relations via journalism and working in the federal government in Ottawa, the corporate world and consulting. Daughter-in-law Judi Gunter, APR, FCPRS, was another.

"Everyone should have a mentor to give encouragement, whether it is solicited or not. Jack was my mentor… one lesson for me… is that the profession truly does have many fields in which it can be practised and offers many challenges through which to stretch and grow intellectually."

In retirement, Jack wrote two books and at 75 eagerly embraced the computer age, banking online when everyone else was still learning to use a mouse.
When his adored wife Colleen died after 56 years of marriage, he was devastated but mustered his iron will to carry on and maintain his independence to the last.

In 1973 he made a brave move from government into the private sector joining the legendary public relations and advertising firm of Francis, Williams & Johnson (later FWJ Communications) in Calgary, Alberta, and succeeded by any measure.

"Jack adjusted easily to the brash environment of serving a large number of small clients, and competing with other firms for new business. He contributed immensely to the firm, sharing his public relations experience gained while serving all of Canada on behalf of government departments.

He proved to be an outstanding mentor for the youthful consulting staff, generously sharing his experience, and coaching aspiring consultants with positive encouragement. Jack set a fine example for members of the public relations profession throughout Canada."
(John Francis APR, FCPRS)

On the night of his passing in 2001, Jack was still planning a major catered family dinner at his home. Moments before he departed, he whispered, "Don't cancel the dinner." 

Jack Donoghue, football hero and PR pro, has passed the ball to us. He still has much to offer today's PR practitioners by his example and the wealth of observations and advice he offers in his book, PR Fifty Years in the Field.

The Foundation of Good PR:
"The success of PR officers is dependent upon ethics and efficiency in working with others, especially the media. The Public's judgments are made on information disseminated… for these judgments to be sound, the information must be based on facts – fair and unbiased."

The Future of Public Relations
"The most dramatic changes (in PR) are the means of processing, storing and distributing information. However, the most important change for those in PR will be the demand for higher and higher degrees of professionalism. Extended academic training will provide executives highly skilled in research, communication, ethics, and the theory and practice of PR… Whatever the future, there will be one constant aspect – the scrutiny of PR in the private and public sectors by government opposition, the media and the public. To date, PR has stood up under that scrutiny and should continue to do so."

Jack's Reflections on his Career
"Public relations has enabled me to work with and learn from many talented people, to come to a greater appreciation of Canada by serving outside its borders, to contribute to the development of young practitioners, to participate in peacekeeping, to learn about the medical profession through client hospitals, and to witness federal government activities up close."