Flint native Howard Bragman is one of the most recognized PR professionals in America. He has taken his 30+ years of agency experience and become the “go-to” guy on television to explain celebrity misbehavior, corporate crisis and the role of “spin” in our everyday lives. He is a frequent contributor and news consultant on ABC programs such as Good Morning America, and he offers expert commentary regularly on CNN and MSNBC.
“Clearly, Flint is not going to be what it once was; it needs a vision. But the city has great potential.”
Howard is Founder and Chairman of Fifteen Minutes Public Relations firm (est. 2005) and Vice Chairman of Reputation.com. Prior to Fifteen Minutes, he founded BNC, which has become the largest entertainment PR agency in the world. He sold the agency to IPG in 2000. In addition to his agency work, Bragman was an award-winning adjunct professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communications and is the author of the bestselling book, Where’s My Fifteen Minutes? (Penguin/Portfolio, 2008). He has received numerous awards and recognition for his work as a political activist for those with HIV/AIDS, LGBT Civil Rights and Jewish causes.
What part of Flint are you from originally? Do you still visit?
I grew up on Sheffield Avenue, just up the hill from Mott Golf course. I visit Flint every couple of years, usually for a family event.
Where did you go to high school and what activities were you involved in?
My family eventually moved to the suburbs and I graduated from Carman (now Carman-Ainsworth) High School. I was involved in student government, the National Honor Society and I worked on the school newspaper.
Where did you go to college?
I graduated from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with a bachelor’s degree, majoring in journalism and psychology.
What aspect of your career is the most rewarding?
In the public relations business, you get to be with people during the best times of their lives and the worst times of their lives. It is an honor for me to be alongside my clients to support them through whatever they are experiencing.
Of what career achievement are you most proud?
I’m most proud of the literally hundreds of young people who have worked with me and gone on to build successful lives and careers. I had lunch recently with someone who started as an intern 25 years ago and is now the president of a huge PR agency.
How did growing up in Flint shape you as a person?
I grew up fat, Jewish and gay. I was an outlier. I think that living in Flint taught me great empathy for what others are going through.
Are there any special people who influenced you?
There are so many people! I went to public schools (Coolidge and Zimmerman before Carman) and had some wonderful teachers who were truly dedicated and motivating.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I read, exercise, hike, cook, travel. I like to watch old movies and spend time with my dogs and family.
What do you hope for Flint’s future?
I hope the people who live there can find their vision of a “new” Flint. Clearly, it’s not going to be what it once was; it needs a vision. But the city has great potential. ♦