News and Insights

Travel and tourism PR icon Morris Silver dies at 97

October 23, 2023

New York, NY – A pioneer in public relations for the travel and tourism industry, Morris Silver was professionally regarded as a trusted advisor to C-Suite executives and heads of state as the hospitality industry took off in the 1970s. He is also credited as a mentor to an impressive number of people starting their careers in public relations as they learned his belief system of hard work, persistence and commitment to meaningful return on client investment. Throughout his career, Morris was a popular member of client executive committees as a quick-thinking strategist with straight forward solutions.

Following a journalism stint at the Newark News, Silver opened Morris Silver Public Relations in Manhattan representing entrepreneurs and consumer product manufacturers. On a trip to The Bahamas, he was struck by the investment being made in the island nation to attract an increasing American travel market. Realizing the global implications of tourism, he soon refocused his general interest firm to a travel specialist agency, M. Silver Associates. His wife Virginia Sheridan, a marketing communications consultant, joined Morris to co-build a powerhouse agency for four decades leading up to its acquisition in 2013 as the now global marketing and communications agency FINN Partners’ first acquisition. Morris and Virginia became Managing Partners at FINN up to his retirement in 2019 with Virginia continuing at the agency.

The agency quickly grew, mostly by referrals, to represent leading brands in hotel and resort development, domestic and global aviation, a then fledging cruise industry and, an agency client hallmark, domestic and international destinations. All were convinced by Morris that PR was the equal of advertising in brand building and business success.

Notable agency campaigns included restoring Panama’s tourism image following the ouster of dictator Manual Noriega, beginning the creation of Costa Rica’s eco reputation through a “Trees for Tourism” campaign, launching the mega-resort Atlantis that was credited with the revitalization of Nassau Paradise Island in The Bahamas and the debut of the Queen Mary 2 (QM2), the first-ocean liner built at that time in 45 years that media quickly clamed as stimulating the rebirth of the cruise industry.   Emirates Airlines hired the agency to support its entry into the United States following 9/11, leading to the opening of gateways across the country and the introduction of the carrier’s famed Airbus A380 that firmly established the airline as a luxury leader in aviation.

In what is inarguably the first major cause-related mega-campaign in the travel industry, M. Silver launched Charge for Hunger by American Express in partnership with SOS to create awareness of hunger in America. Other work for the financial giant included the promotion of the “For Members Only” Platinum Card program, American Express Travel Services and American Express Merchant Services, creating a series of Index Reports that became economic retail impact indicators valued and anticipated by the media and businesses served by American Express.

Morris is survived by his wife of 48 years, Virginia M. Sheridan, daughter Cindy Goldsmith (Glen Goldsmith), father of Cindy Goldsmith (Glen Goldsmith) and Jeffrey Silver (Rose McGiveron), grandfather of Kelsy Goldsmith, Haley Goldsmith (Benjamin Budenstein) and Jaclyn Silver.