Thu | Sep 20, 2018

Ralston Smith hailed for professionalism, impartiality

Published:Thursday | January 22, 2015 | 12:00 AM

A SELFLESS, people-based and balanced advocate, is how former chief executive officer of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), Carmen Tipling, describes the late media professional, Ralston Smith.

Smith, who passed away on January 14, was the former executive chairman of the then government news agency, JAMPRESS.

He served as the executive chairman of JAMPRESS in the 1990s before its operations were eventually incorporated into the JIS. Prior to this, he was executive director of the then Agency for Public Information (before it was renamed JIS) in the 1970s.

Smith was a renowned public-relations pioneer, who Tipling said was very influential in her professional life as well as the lives "of a generation of journalists".

"During my initial years as chief executive officer of the JIS, Smith was instrumental in guiding me through the process of what it meant to promote government's policies and programmes. In fact, his mentorship convinced me that it was necessary to mentor others to maintain the probity and veracity of an executive agency, such as the JIS," she said.

Friend, Associate, Mentor

Tipling said she highly respected Smith, who was a friend, associate and mentor, for his professionalism and impartiality in carrying out his duties within the public service.

"He did not believe in 'fire-fighting', and felt that there were many avenues to communicate and educate audiences, whether through seminars, workshops, or informed news stories and feature articles," she said.

For current CEO, Donna Marie Rowe, Smith blazed the trail for public-relations (PR) practitioners in Jamaica, having served with distinction and passion over the years.

"I admired the impact he had on the great PR stalwarts of our time, especially those who have served the Government," she said.

Dedicated Public Servant

Former executive director of JAMPRESS, Ken Chaplin, said Smith was a dedicated, professional public servant, who was held in high regard by journalists throughout Jamaica.

"I found him a very professional man, who was well respected by staff ... and he was very fair," he said.

A public-relations pioneer, Smith was co-founder of Jamaica's first public-relations agency, Public Relations Associates, in 1957, and was a founding member of the Public Relations Society of Jamaica. He was also public relations officer for Kaiser Bauxite and account executive with the Jamaican office of the international public-relations company, Ketchum McLeod and Grove.

Smith was also a communications consultant to then Deputy Prime Minister P.J. Patterson in the Ministry of Development, Planning and Production in the early 1990s. He went on to work with Patterson as press secretary during his term as prime minister.