Legends & Leaders: Davis Young


By: Megan Confer, Account Manager, Prosper for Purpose

Over the past forty years, Davis Young has been a standout in the PR profession. Young is a recipient of the Best of Silver Anvil Award, presented by PRSA to honor the single best public relations program of the year. Young is a former president of the Greater Cleveland PRSA Chapter and former president of Edward Howard & Co.

I had the opportunity to speak with, Davis Young, about what he’s learned during his impressive career in the field.

Davis started his career at a small firm Walker & Company as the only PR person.

“It was great,” Davis said. “I got to do everything! There was nothing I wasn’t involved in.”

He spent a number of years running the public relations operation for a large Cleveland ad agency, then moved over to the former Edward Howard & Co. in 1988, serving as president from 1989-2000.

In recent years, he has taught more than 200 college classes on communications at varying institutions, including Kent State, John Carroll, Baldwin-Wallace, Case Western Reserve and Ursuline College.

“I’ve seen so many young people become educated and coming out of school with a lot of preparation that I could have used,” Davis explained. “I think the industry has become more professional and that’s a very positive change.”

Davis explained that the most important thing he’s learned over the course of his career deals with the importance and responsibility of professionals who serve their organizations and clients.

“Our industry is really important. People make decisions based on what we say or write. All of us have a huge responsibility to be fair, accurate and timely. Everything that goes on in an organization requires communication and public relations people need to be at the center of that.”

Davis has been deeply involved with PRSA throughout his career. He is a past chair of the PRSA Counselor Academy, chaired/co-chaired two PRSA National Conferences and was a member of the first elected class of the College of Fellows.

“The first guy I worked for was an active member of PRSA, and he was a great role model.  I carried that forward and at Edward Howard, we expected everyone to become APR.  Earning that designation really amounts to a personal commitment to do things the right way.”

Closing our conversation, he had great advice for those who are newer to the field of public relations, encouraging young professionals to take an interest in understanding business per se.

“What we do touches everything. Learn as much as you can about the business of your organization.  Understand what’s important to your senior leadership.  If you really want to add value, think like a CEO.”

Davis Young, APR, Fellow PRSA is a former president of Edward Howard & Co and former president of Greater Cleveland PRSA.

Megan Confer serves as the primary contact for clients, managing their day-to-day needs and ensuring projects remain effective and efficient. Megan has spent her career immersed in the agency world, working with both B2B and B2C clients in a variety of industries on marketing strategy, branding, social media, public relations and media relations. Megan graduated from Kent State University with her Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and a minor in Marketing.  She is an active member of PRSA Cleveland and a Cleveland transplant.

Public Relations Society of America, Greater Cleveland Chapter