Travel and tourism PR icon Morris Silver is remembered

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Silver was regarded as a trusted advisor to C-suite executives and heads of state as the hospitality industry took off in the 1970s.

Mentor to many

He is also credited as a mentor to an impressive number of people starting their careers in public relations as they learned his belief system of hard work, persistence and commitment to meaningful return on client investment.

‘Morris Silver was my first mentor,’ said Gary Gerbino, a respected cruise industry PR executive. ‘M. Silver Associates was my first job right out of college in 1985. I’ll never forget the first time I went to help carry his suitcase and he stopped me, saying “You’re my colleague, not my porter.”’

Quick-thinking strategist

Throughout his career, Silver was a popular member of client executive committees as a quick-thinking strategist with straightforward solutions. 

Following a journalism stint at the Newark News, Silver opened Morris Silver Public Relations in Manhattan, representing entrepreneurs and consumer product manufacturers. On a trip to The Bahamas, he was struck by the investment being made in the island nation to attract the growing American travel market. Realizing the global implications of tourism, he soon refocused his general interest firm to a travel specialist agency, M. Silver Associates.

Co-built a powerhouse agency

His wife Virginia Sheridan, a marketing communications consultant, joined Silver to co-build a powerhouse agency for four decades leading up to its acquisition in 2013 as the now global marketing and communications agency FINN Partners’ first acquisition. Morris and Virginia became managing partners at FINN up to his retirement in 2019 with Virginia continuing at the agency, whose clients include Seatrade Cruise Global.

M. Silver Associates quickly grew, mostly by referrals, to represent leading brands in hotel and resort development, domestic and global aviation, a then fledging cruise industry and, an agency client hallmark, domestic and international destinations. All were convinced by Silver that PR was the equal of advertising in brand building and business success.      

Queen Mary 2 launch

Notable agency campaigns included restoring Panama’s tourism image following the ouster of dictator Manual Noriega, beginning the creation of Costa Rica’s eco reputation through a ‘Trees for Tourism’ campaign, launching the mega-resort Atlantis that was credited with the revitalization of Nassau Paradise Island in The Bahamas and the debut of Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, the first ocean liner built in 45 years.

PHOTO COURTESY GARY GERBINOCRUISE_Morris_Silver_QM2_Katie_Couric_benefit.jpg

Morris Silver, center, with Virginia Sheridan, left, and Gary Gerbino, far left, at Katie Couric’s benefit for her husband Jay Monahan on board Queen Mary 2

Emirates Airlines hired the agency to support its entry into the United States following 9/11, leading to the opening of gateways across the country and the introduction of the carrier’s famed Airbus A380 that established the airline as a luxury leader in aviation.  

M. Silver also represented Cruise Lines International Association. 

Pioneering cause-related mega-campaign

In what is arguably the first major cause-related mega-campaign in the travel industry, M. Silver launched Charge for Hunger by American Express in partnership with SOS to create awareness of hunger in America. Other work for the financial giant included the promotion of the ‘For Members Only’ Platinum Card program, American Express Travel Services and American Express Merchant Services, creating a series of Index Reports that became economic retail impact indicators valued and anticipated by the media and businesses served by American Express.   

Besides Virginia, his wife of 48 years, Silver is survived by daughter Cindy Goldsmith, son Jeffrey Silver and grandchildren Kelsy Goldsmith, Haley Goldsmith and Jaclyn Silver. 

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