The Publicity Club of Chicago has renamed its annual Branding Award, given out during its prestigious Golden Trumpet Awards each spring, The Jeff Bierig Branding Award. The board voted unanimously Friday to honor Bierig's "professional contributions and achievements," according to Sue Markgraf, president of the group. ‚ It's a fitting tribute to the man who twice served as president of the organization and was the first recipient of the award now named in his honor.
A widely admired and respected public relations professional, a lifelong Chicagoan, a generous teacher and mentor to countless students, and a 22-year cancer surivor, Jeffrey D. Bierig died Wednesday after a battle with leukemia. He was 57.
Jeff began in radio as a talk show producer for Dave Baum and other personalities at WIND-AM (560) and KMOX-AM in St. Louis. He later became promotion director of the former WMET, and held positions at three of Chicago's blue chip public relations firms -- Edelman Public Relations, Martin E. Janis Co., and Margie Korshak Inc.
From 1983 to 2002, he was manager of media relations for the Chicago Tribune, where he served as the newspaper's spokesman and spearheaded promotion of its 150th anniversary in 1997. Most recently he was associate vice president of communications and marketing at Illinois Institute of Technology, where he won awards -- and the loyalty of his colleagues. John Anderson, president of IIT, said in a statement:
"Jeff made many significant contributions in his four years with IIT, and earned the highest respect and admiration from his peers in the communication and media industry, and across the university. A dedicated husband and father, and a great lover of music, theater, and the arts, Jeff's warmth and kindness will be missed and remembered by all whose lives he touched."
Jeff was a dear friend of mine for more than 35 years. My brothers go back with him even farther. He was ethical and conscientious in his profession. And no one loved schmoozing about the media -- especially radio -- more than he did. Years ago, we had dinner together with Walter Cronkite -- a night neither of us would ever forget. More recently, after we'd both become parents, we took our daughters on vacation to Walt Disney World. We cherished every moment. Jeff's family and the time he spent with them -- wife Linda, son Alek, daughter Anika -- were his greatest joy.
Touching tributes to him were posted over the weekend (here is the link), including from former WIND colleague Clark Weber, and Jeff's cousin, former Chicago Sun-Times sportswriter Joel Bierig. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Monday at Piser Chapel, 9200 N. Skokie Blvd., Skokie.