Alan Gordon, the well-known PR and marketing expert, who launched his own agency, Merlin Publicity, has died of a cardiac arrest.

Bakels MD Paul Morrow said: “Alan was a ‘behind the scenes’ operator so few will be aware of his influence on the baking industry over the past 30 years.

“I first met him when he launched Baking Update magazine in the late 1980s.  In that role he introduced the Baking Industry Awards, which will be his lasting legacy.

“When he decided to set up his own business I was one of his first clients.  He taught me, and subsequent marketing managers now half his age, the difference between PR and advertising.  PR is very much about communicating with people and Alan’s expertise was to define ‘the message’ and then communicate it effectively.”

Morrow added: “He also taught me to ask myself the ‘so what?’ question.  If, after making an enthusiastic presentation on some great new product, the audience says ‘so what?’ either the product or message is wrong and you had better think again.

“Alan will be irreplaceable to his family, his friends and the colleagues who relied so much upon his advice.”

David Marsh, managing director Benier (UK), said: “We have worked with Alan for over 20 years. He was a constant, someone who was always there to help us. A true gentleman, Alan was ever considerate of others. It was always a pleasure when he visited us for our Friday morning meetings to consider future publicity and/or advertising. His advice eagerly sought and highly valued.

It was deeply saddening to hear he had been taken from us and, more importantly, his nearest and dearest to whom we extend our most heartfelt condolences.”

Former editor of British Baker, Sylvia Macdonald, said: “Alan was exceptional, the best PR and marketing person in the business. He knew the industry inside out having worked as a journalist on British Baker, then the former Baking Today and Baking Update magazines, before launching his own agency. He was very conscientious, hard-working and effective, but he was also a lovely person whose kindness and good manners were always to the fore.”

He leaves a wife, Sue, and two daughters. The funeral will be held on Monday, 3 October at 11am at Eltham Crematorium in Falconwood, South London.

Any donations should go to The British Heart Foundation (BHF). For online giving, a live link will set up to the BHF, shortly.