To borrow a brand tagline from one of his former clients, “nobody didn’t like Kevin Lynch.”
As co-owner of an agency with his wife, Kathy Baughman, Kevin entered my life 31 years ago during a business prospecting cold call shortly after I began my Chicago PR career at Sara Lee Corporation. Kevin could have written the book on new business development. He spent most of the time listening, not selling. When he injected a comment, it was relevant, actionable and often humorous. Kevin and his colleagues next met with and impressed my team, and we soon began working with HLB Communications, now ComBlu.
Our friendship grew over the next three decades, even when I moved from client to agency competitor. As I transitioned into teaching and consulting, Kevin remained an incredibly valuable resource of historical information about Chicago business and PR. Over those years, Kevin, Kathy and their family-like colleagues became important parts of my family’s life.
Sadly, Kevin, 70, passed away earlier this month—just as he and Kathy were planning their next chapter in the journey they shared 24/7 for the past 45 years as both business and life partners.
During the private memorial service and subsequent conversations with those who knew Kevin, 10 leadership qualities consistently emerged that underscore why he was a very special person. While thousands of words could be said about each of Kevin’s qualities, here is a quick summary pulled together by his long-time colleague Pam Flores and me:
Mentor. He was always willing to take a young person under his wing, offering them honest advice that would improve their chances to succeed – not just in PR.
Intellectually curious. Always looking to learn something new, friends and colleagues enjoyed hearing his far-ranging factoids about PR, business and politics.
Connections. One of Kevin’s gifts was his ability to talk with absolutely anyone and make a connection on a personal level that almost always turned into an opportunity (at some point in time). Kevin’s network was authentic.
Persistence. In new business development and media relations a gentle persistence is a huge quality to master. Kevin did it best. His gentle nature, unassuming presence, and never give up attitude was a recipe for success for Kevin.
Foundational. Kevin was so interested in architecture and engineering and how things were framed: from the bottom to the top. He applied that principal to maintaining and growing his agency. He cared about everyone in the agency and took care to get to know them on a personal level and took a vested interest in their development.
Positive Spin. An optimist about all things, including politics, he had both the gift of gab and the great gift of spin. He could spin a story a mile long and always found a way to pull some nugget out of even the most arcane tale.
Comic Relief. PR can get intense in so many ways – clients in crisis, unrealistic deadlines and unyielding demands. Regardless of the situation, Kevin helped those around him to not take ourselves too seriously and provided much needed comic relief all the time.
Perceptive. Kevin was never willing to rely on one source or train of thinking. He always strove to understand all angles before forming his opinion.
Passion. His often shared advice to aspiring young pros: “Find what you love and give it your all.”
Devoted husband and friend. Kevin could have taught a course on being a great husband and friend. A good listener and positive thinker, he encouraged others to believe in themselves and to do their best.
Rest in peace, Kevin. Job well done.