Michael Bland Obituary

Michael Bland, who has died aged 76 of Covid-19, was a leading figure in the public relations industry and a born storyteller. Best known for pioneering work in PR and crisis management, Michael counselled more than 100 organisations in 37 countries, including global superbrands, governments, national banks and members of the British royal family.

Among his career highlights, he delivered crisis planning for a consortium of European banks at the launch of the euro, said at the time to be the “biggest product launch in world history”. Michael was an accomplished speaker, taught communication skills, and wrote books, short stories and even a few TV scripts.

Born in London, and raised in Suffolk, Michael was the son of Joyce, a chiropodist, and Bertie, a dentist, and went to Culford school in Bury St Edmunds. He joined the army in 1965, becoming an officer in the Royal Anglian Regiment, where he specialised in winter survival instruction.

After leaving the military in 1968, he worked as a stockbroker and financial journalist, a manager at Reuters news agency and tried his hand as a rodeo commentator. He went on to lead corporate communications at the Institute of Directors, then the Ford Motor Company, before launching an independent consultancy in 1984.

Michael Bland sporting his GB athletics tracksuit in the 1980s
FacebookTwitterPinterest Michael Bland sporting his GB athletics tracksuit in the 1980s
Michael was a keen sportsman. He represented Great Britain at the European Masters athletics championships in the 1980s. He was a county champion in rifle shooting and a ski instructor. He won awards in swimming, boxing and various athletics. After developing Parkinson’s in his late 50s, Michael remained fit for many years. He went on to attain a black belt in kickboxing, and re-entered the ring in 2006 for a demonstration bout against the then European champion, Matt Parks, to raise money for Parkinson’s UK. He was not shy about his illness, and would incorporate jokes about his shaky hands into his speaking engagements.

He developed a strong spiritual side, becoming a qualified complementary healer. He combined this with his wide experience to deliver practical courses on getting more energy from life.

Despite two decades of Parkinson’s, he remained independent until the end. In December 2020, after a fall, he was admitted to hospital, where he contracted Covid-19.

Michael was twice married and divorced; he is survived by two sons, Tom and me, from his first marriage, to Penelope Power, and a daughter, Freya, from his second, to Julia Shepherd, and by a granddaughter, Nina.

Copied from The Guardian article dated 31st January 2021