The luckiest thing that ever happened to Henry Rogers was when he got fired from his $5-a-week job. If it hadn't been for that, he probably never would have met Rita Hayworth and Sylvester Stallone.
Rogers, founder of Rogers and Cowan, one of the largest public-relations firms in the world, said he fell into doing public relations in Hollywood after family financial problems forced him to leave college and move to California.Rogers spoke Thursday to a group of Brigham Young University students during a communications symposium.
He began his career 50 years ago as an office boy at a Hollywood PR firm, but after nine months, his boss said he was disappointed in the young Rogers and fired him.
"The first and best thing that ever happened to me was getting fired. It happens to everybody and it's a terrible experience but it's the best opportunity I ever had," he said. "It all started the day my boss said, `You're not the office boy I expected. You're fired.' "
Rogers bounced back with a little help from his father, who loaned him $500 to start his own PR firm.
"I decided to get to the people around (the stars) so I began my own public relations program for myself and gradually I developed relationships with those people and they began to recommend me to their clients," he said.
One of those relationships netted Rogers his first big break three years after he started his business. Rising star Rita Hayworth needed a public relations firm, and her husband, Rogers' friend, recommended him. Hayworth met with huge success soon after and everyone credited Rogers.
"Nobody makes anybody a star. You cannot sell a bad product," he said. "So I adopted a very humble attitude. I did not make Rita Hayworth a star. She made me a star. Everything built from there."
Today Rogers has offices in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and London. His client list includes Joan Collins, Bruce Willis, the Beach Boys, AT&T, Ford Motor Company, Paul Newman and Paul McCartney.