PR consultant Sharon Prior dies

Sharon Prior 2

Public relations consultant Sharon Prior has died after a long illness fought with remarkable courage and integrity. She set up Prior Communications in 1994 to specialise in consumer PR. Prior had worked with Kennys and Grayling and was the PR and sponsorship manager for the Tennents Ireland brewer.

From her earliest days in Kennys PR, then headed up by Jack McGouran and Stuart Kenny, she nurtured strong links with various clients, not least with her first account, Maxol. When she left Grayling to start Prior Communications she took the oil company account with her and soon built up a strong client portfolio.

Highlights in the early days of her agency included the Dunnes Stores launch of the St Bernard own label range. She brought the British business tycoon Richard Branson to Dublin to launch Virgin Cola. The agency was later appointed by Diageo to handle Smithwick’s and the Guinness Storehouse.

Prior launched Kilkenny Irish Beer and Breo citrus lager for the brewer. In the summer of 1998, the agency handled the Irish stage of the Tour de France and the Tall Ships visit to Dublin. The agency worked on Digifone and O2, including the Jordan F1 team and O2 in the Park sponsorships.

Her professionalism, innate tenacity, personal appeal and joie de vivre resulted in her winning other lucrative accounts in subsequent years, including Unilever Bestfoods, Ericsson, Green Isle, SHS (Tropicana), Spin, Azur Assistance and The Ark children’s art centre in Temple Bar.

In 2005, Prior’s agency was acquired by Marketing Network, the sales promotion agency run by Kieran Killeen and Neil Harvey, and the business became known as Prior Communications@Marketing Network. Both agencies had a strong track record working for FMCG brands.

Sharon Prior is survived by her husband, Paul Nolan, her two daughters, Sophie, 16 and JulieAnn, 13, her brother Aidan and her sister, Aisling. Paul Nolan worked in advertising with O’Connor O’Sullivan and later helped develop a network of Irish-style pubs in the US and elsewhere overseas.

Her father-in-law, Frank Nolan, was a senior marketer and consultant with Guinness and Dimension.

22 Responses to PR consultant Sharon Prior dies

  1. Gerry Fizsimons 21/04/10 at 11:08 am #

    Worked with Sharon for many years in Tennents Ireland – only heard the news today. Very, very sorry. A lovely lady and so professional.

  2. Michael Taylor 21/04/10 at 7:53 pm #

    I too only heard the news today. The news came as a great shock. I worked with Sharon for many years in Tennents Ireland and it was always an absolute pleasure. My deepest sympathy to Paul and the girls. May Sharon rest in peace.

  3. JulieAnn Leahy Campion 21/04/10 at 10:03 pm #

    Worked as Sharon’s assistant for a number of years at Tennents Ireland and what a wonderful person. Heard the news from another work colleague on Monday. Absolutely shocking news. May she rest in peace.

  4. Sonjia Maher 22/04/10 at 9:51 am #

    I also worked with Sharon in Tennents and was shocked to hear of her passing – she was a vibrant, dynamic person – the ultimate professional and I know she will be missed terribly by her family, friends and work colleagues. May she rest in peace.

  5. Tony Murphy 22/04/10 at 10:17 am #

    It was with great shock and sadness I learned of the untimely death of Sharon. I worked with her many years ago on the Tennents Ireland launches and many other events. Sharon was great fun and a joy to work with and a consummate professional at her job. My thoughts are with Sophie, Julieann and Paul who have lost a great soul mate, mother and wife. May she rest in peace.

  6. Grainne Byrne 22/04/10 at 12:07 pm #

    I am still stunned by this news as I hadn’t realised Sharon’s illness had returned. Whenever we spoke, she was always so positive and upbeat – her joie de vivre was truly infectious. She was also excellent at her work. The huge crowd at her removal was a testament to how she was regarded. My thoughts are with her family and friends. Rest in peace.

  7. Stephen Conmy 22/04/10 at 1:09 pm #

    This is terribly sad news, I am shocked to hear it. My thoughts are with Sharon’s family. May she rest in peace.

  8. Pat Nolan 22/04/10 at 3:29 pm #

    Shocked to hear about Sharon. I’d only been thinking of her the other day, wondering what she was up to….
    A lovely lady. Sincere condolences to Paul and his family.

  9. Mari O'Leary 22/04/10 at 4:38 pm #

    Like others, the news of Sharon’s death was a real shock for me. She was a great lady and an inspiration. The good die young and this really is the case with Sharon. My thoughts and prayers are with Paul, Sophie and Julieann at this really sad time.

  10. Tara Farrell 22/04/10 at 4:40 pm #

    I worked with Sharon, Fiona and the Prior Communications team on way too many radio promotions to mention. Sharon was a really great lady, warm and generous. It was a privilege to know her. May she rest in peace.

  11. Katherine Mc Cartney 22/04/10 at 5:15 pm #

    I worked with Sharon in Tennents and I am shocked and deeply saddened to hear the news of her untimely death. Sharon was an inspiration to me in Tennents. She was the ultimate professional and above all she loved life. My thoughts and prayers are with her family. May she rest in peace.

  12. Colm Burns 22/04/10 at 5:32 pm #

    I am so shocked, and I still find it hard to believe Sharon has gone. Karl Tsigdinos, Robin Challis, Frank Quinn and myself had a ball all those years ago working with Sharon on Noelle Campbell Sharpe’s Success magazine.

    Rest in peace Sharon.

  13. Aidan Prior 22/04/10 at 6:55 pm #

    Sharon was a wonderful mother who raised two strong, wonderful young women in Sophie and Julieann.

    She fought her immensely brave battle for them, exceeding everybody’s expectations in defying all the odds to keep going for as long as she did.
    She constantly overcame every hurdle thrown at her, but in the end those hurdles were infinite.

    Sharon’s incredible determination was the unconditional love of a mother and for her resilience I’ll be forever proud of her.

    Being her younger brother, I looked up to and admired her, always seeking her opinion on any decision I faced, as Sharon achieved everything she set out to do in this world. She lived a short but a fulfilled life and always knew when to put family before anything else.

    When you’d call to ask how she was doing, she’d always tell you she was fine and then she’d move the conversation swiftly along. That was typical of Sharon’s spirit, never conceding defeat or wanting people worrying about her.

    Five years ago, when I got back from travelling Central America, I said to Sharon that I had an idea to open a hotel in the jungle in Costa Rica. I was expecting to be told that I was mad, but to my surprise she believed in me and that gave me the confidence to pursue my dream, and for that I thank her as I wouldn’t be here, happily married with two great kids, if it wasn’t for her.

    I had my wedding day here on the beach two years ago and since I’ve lost both my parents my family is small, but Sharon made sure she’d make it. When I picked her up at the airport, we both shed tears of joy and emotion.
    Having her for that big day in my life meant the world to me. I no longer felt alone, because I had family by my side.
    That memory will never be forgotten.

    Regrettably, I couldn’t make the funeral due to the ash cloud, but I will miss Sharon Prior from the bottom of my heart, as will Vicky, Amelie, and Sonia who were both crazy about ‘Tia Sharon’ for the kindness and love she had shown towards them in the short time they shared together.
    Sharon had a big heart and a big bite when you were out of line but that was the type of mother, wife, sister, auntie or friend she was and we all truly loved her for that. So thanks Sharon for kicking me into line when I needed it!

    With love, your brother Aidan

  14. Jim Walsh 22/04/10 at 9:51 pm #

    The world of Irish PR has lost a true professional and a lovely lady. I had left Kenny’s just before Sharon joined in the mid 80s but our paths crossed many times and I admired her as a super PR expert in the fmcg sector. I am sad that I didn’ t have the opportunity to give personal condolences to Paul and Sharon’s daughters. But my thoughts and prayers are with them. May she rest in peace.

  15. Robin Challis 22/04/10 at 10:11 pm #

    I worked with Sharon in Success Magazine all those years ago, when it had just been set up by Noelle Campbell-Sharpe and based out in Kill Avenue, Dun Laoghaire – I’m told it was Sharon’s first job after leaving college. It was a bit of a boy’s world .. peopled by Frank Quinn, Colm Burns and Karl Tsigdinos (among others), who all – like herself – moved on to greater things. We used to give her a fair old ribbing, but she gave as good as she got. I remember her for her great sense of humour, her joie de vivre, and the bright smile she always had on her face. A great lady! May she rest in peace.

  16. Kathleen Belton 23/04/10 at 8:07 am #

    Sharon, your smile, wit and true professionalism with be missed from our fragile world. Your vitality, kindness and ability to gel with all around is a lesson for the next generation of PR consultants.You were greatly admired in the FMCG sector and your legacy will live on. My thoughts are with Paul and the girls at this sad time.

  17. Pat Keating 23/04/10 at 9:39 am #

    Condolences to Paul, Sophie and Julieann on Sharon’s sad and untimely passing. I first met Sharon when she, Oonagh Coleman and Pam Collins joined Grayling from Kenny’s and we worked together for a few years back in the eighties. I recall Sharon as hugely efficient and energetic, full of good humour, a good colleague and friend. May she rest in peace.

  18. Jackie Nelson 23/04/10 at 10:05 am #

    I just heard the news today. I am devastated. I went to school both junior and senior with Sharon. Her sister Aisling was my best friend during all those years. I had numerous sleep overs and play dates at their home. Aisling was in my class, Sharon was one year ahead and my sister was a year ahead of Sharon. We all played together. I knew them all so well. Aidan wouldn’t remember me, but I remember the day he was born. My Mum died after a long battle with cancer when I was 14 and Sharon’s mum was so kind to me.I can’t believe that both her mum and dad are gone now also. My own dad died the day before his birthday nine months ago, following a ten year illness as a result of a brain tumor.The Priors were very much part of my life for years. Unfortunately when we grow up, move home, travel etc, life takes over and people lose contact. I will always have fond memories of the time I spent with Sharon and Aisling over the best part of 15 years.I am so dreadfully sorry for her husband and the girls. Sharon died on my birthday last week. May she rest in peace.

  19. mary mcgovern 23/04/10 at 10:18 am #

    I am in shock as I have just heard the news. I have spent the last half hour crying with sadness. Sharon and I went back so long ago and were going to set up a PR firm together before she went out on her own. She was a fantastic PR professional on every level and always had a smile on her face. I will be praying for her family. May she rest in peace. Amen. Mary McGovern

  20. kieran leonard 23/04/10 at 10:31 am #

    A great, great loss. A great lady to work with and to have fun. Paul take care

  21. Rebecca Burrell 23/04/10 at 12:21 pm #

    I had the pleasure of working with Sharon many years ago and remember her bright smile and sense of fun and humour well. My prayers and thoughts are with her family.

  22. James Wynne 23/04/10 at 2:04 pm #

    Sharon gave me my first job in PR and I worked at Prior Communications for five great years. She was an inspiration in so many respects and her advice was invaluable in everything from career decisions, to what to order for your starter in La Stampa. I feel fortunate to have been counted among her seemingly ever increasing circle of friends and shared lots of laughs. A truly wonderful person, she will be missed greatly. My thoughts are with her family.

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