By Michelle Samuels
The legal marketing community joins in mourning the sudden and unexpected passing of our friend, colleague and former LMA member Roger Ardanowski (known to many as Roger Ardan) on July 10, 2017. He was 51.
A seasoned public relations professional with more than 25 years of agency and corporate experience, Roger specialized in marketing communications, branding, media relations and thought leadership for legal, professional and financial service firms. In a time when many law and professional services firms were wary of the value of PR and media outreach, Roger was the ultimate trusted advisor, patiently guiding them through decisions large and small, and serving as the de facto marketing director for those firms without in-house support. In reassuring clients worried about the timetable of a new partner release, he’d always say, “Don’t worry about the timing. It’s news when we say it’s news!”
Roger always went the extra mile for his clients. He would take the time to get to know each client’s business in order to create thoughtful and relevant PR and marketing strategies that aligned with their business objectives. Over the course of his career, he dramatically raised the visibility of many firms in the industry and helped attorneys establish themselves as thought leaders in their fields.
Most recently, Roger served as managing director of Middleberg Communications/Laundry Service, where he led its professional services group. Prior to that, he led the professional services group at Gibbs & Soell, and was senior vice president at Edelman, managing the agency’s legal and professional services practices.
It was at Edelman’s Times Square office where I first met Roger over a decade ago. It was early in my career, and as an AAE, I was assigned to provide support to his professional services team. When he brought me in to help on a law firm client account, I was skeptical of how much media coverage we would get for a lawyer. In my mind, all lawyers were cautious, media-wary and long-winded – attributes that don’t go well with being quoted in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. But Roger was a wonderful teacher and mentor, explaining how law firm marketing works, what role PR can play and how we would be helping lawyers build relationships with the media. And when Roger said “we,” he meant it.
Like many others he managed, he gave me ample opportunity to jump right in and develop my skills through pitching (“Keep smilin’ and dialin,’” he’d say), creating PR plans, interfacing with clients helping with crisis scenarios and more. He was a superb mentor who walked me through the process before letting me run with it, making sure I knew he was available for guidance. And when a particularly difficult client issue would come up, Roger would stay calm, level headed and cheerful as we figured out what to do. As an Eagle Scout, he knew to stay calm under pressure. And despite working in the cutthroat PR agency world, he had no ego. His mindset was always focused on doing whatever he could to help his team members and clients. I worked with him for only two years, but learned so much from him about PR and legal marketing in that timeframe. We stayed in touch for years after that, often meeting at LMA events to catch up.
Roger loved spending time with his wife Tracy and their daughter Madison in his hometown of Tarrytown, New York. He was actively involved in activities with his daughter, serving as the first male Girl Scout Leader of Troop 2255 in the Hudson Valley. Always the proud father, he would bring out the latest Maddie pictures to show me whenever I would ask about his family. He was also an avid cook who relished the opportunity to head to Stew Leonard’s and plan his Thanksgiving menu.
I’ll miss his kind and generous spirit, his sincere desire to help others and his friendship. I know the LMA community, filled with so many of his clients, colleagues and friends, will too.
For those interested, contributions in Roger’s memory are welcome for the Madison Ardanowski College Fund, sent c/o Tracy Boggier-Ardan, 283A South Broadway, Tarrytown, NY 10591.