Magnolia man honored with lifetime award: Dan McConnell gets PR society's highest honor at gala event

Seattle public relations veteran and long-time Magnolia resident Dan McConnell led the list of award recipients at the Holidays in Tinseltown annual Public Relations Society of America gala held in December.

McConnell, a senior management consultant and officer at DDB Worldwide Communications, was given the Society's highest honor, the Jay Rockey Lifetime Achievement Award.

With the distinction, McConnell becomes only the fourth professional to receive the award in the group's history.

The evening gave McConnell a chance to celebrate his accomplishments and outstanding leadership in communications with almost 200 of his colleagues, clients, close friends and his wife, Jane.

McConnell's award was presented by DDB public relations account director Dan Miller, who McConnell mentored when Miller came to the agency as an intern more than 10 years ago.

McConnell launched his public relations career in the 1970s. He worked as a Capitol Hill intern in Washington, D.C., while getting his undergraduate degree in English and journalism, and a master's in business from Indiana University.

McConnell served in the Army during the Vietnam War, was a correspondent for a major Midwest newspaper and a television news producer at the same news gathering organizations as Jane Pauley and David Letterman.

After military service, McConnell held a number of public relations and investor communications management positions at multi-billion-dollar engine manufacturer Cummins Engine Company, which included a primary slot on the acquisition team that purchased a Swiss bank; a cattle feeding operation in Ireland; an aftermarket auto air conditioning company in Dallas; a computer software company in Princeton, N.J.; K2 Skis on Vashon Island; and JanSport backpacks in Everett.

From there, McConnell started his own counseling business in Seattle and built it into one of the top five independent public relations firms in the Pacific Northwest, according to The Puget Sound Business Journal's industry rankings. His company was purchased by DDB in 1993, and McConnell is now a board member of The Integrated Solutions Group, representing public relations in the company's worldwide network of non-advertising centers of excellence.

McConnell's work stood him next to Ted Turner to introduce the inaugural Goodwill Games in Russia to the world. He's helped Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu get out their messages of peace from South Africa and he aided Sir Edmund Hillary with his work for schools in the Khumbu Valley of Nepal.

He's trained scores of business executives to deal with the news media and was a press agent for such institutions as IBM, Clear Channel Entertainment, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Space Needle. He's promoted three America's Cup races and taken American sports and entertainment to China and Japan.

Along with his extensive international experience having managed clients in the United Kingdom and Europe and dealing with national and local government in South Africa, China, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina, McConnell has counseled the White House staff on media relations for presidents Reagan and Clinton; orchestrated the first live television satellite transmission from the top of Mount Everest; managed crisis communications and worldwide media relations for a dramatic rescue at sea in the southern ocean near Antarctica; and was executive producer of a national Emmy-award-winning PBS adventure documentary.

Outside the office, McConnell writes and speaks on public relations and crisis issues in many media and venues. He is a founding board member of the University of Washington Public Relations Certificate program and is the senior instructor for a number of courses in the curriculum. McConnell has been extensively quoted on the public relations profession by The Wall Street Journal; The New York Times; Forbes; Fortune and Business Week.

His writing credits include PR Week; PR Journal; Marketing; Media Inc.; Puget Sound Business Journal, the International Herald newspaper and an authored chapter on reputation management in Public Relations Best Practices from Aspatore Books, among others. McConnell is a senior member of the Public Relations Society's Counselors Academy and is a member of the University of Washington President's Visiting Committee.

He currently serves on the boards of Pacific Science Center, 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle Central Community College, United Negro College Fund and the World Trade Council. He is an advisor to the Pacific Northwest Ballet, Pacific Crest Outward Bound School and Ronald McDonald House Charities as well. 

He is a film buff and music collector of eclectic tastes. McConnell's basement holds more than 6,000 music albums and discs, and his video/DVD collection now numbers about 2,000 titles.

For fun, he plays the guitar, banjo and harmonica, and he has a standing racquetball game at 5:30 a.m. every morning when he's in town. McConnell likes to climb, ski, sail and fly-fish and to go to the mountains for solace.

Reader's Digest has written about his penchant for traveling, as he's logged about 150,000 airmiles a year for decades... as many of them as possible with Jane.[[In-content Ad]]