NEW YORK — Robert W. Bloch, a public relations and marketing executive who began his own firm, Robert W. Bloch International, in 1956, died Saturday at age 78.

The cause of death was liposarcoma, a rare form of cancer, according to a spokeswoman for the family.

Over the years, Bloch had developed campaigns for European department stores, including Harrods, Selfridges and Galeries Lafayette. He is credited with launching the first toll-free telephone number for international shoppers, which let American shoppers order cashmere products during the annual January sale at Harrods in London. And he was instrumental in bringing Galeries Lafayette to Manhattan in September 1991.

Over the years, Bloch's American clients included AT&T and Deloitte & Touche, and he was also a press liaison for Temple Emanu-El, the world's largest Jewish house of worship. His firm was developed on the premise that a small p.r. company could represent large clients and he was a strong believer in one-on-one client contact. One of his favorite phrases was, "One gains self-confidence by doing it alone."

During the early days of his career, Bloch worked as a reporter-producer for TV. In this capacity, he was part of the first-ever American camera crew to cover the fashion collections in Paris during the spring of 1953.

Bloch also assisted the royal families of Great Britain and Denmark, the spokeswoman said. He often was called upon for media matters when members of those royal families visited the U.S.

He is survived by his wife, Deborah, and daughter, Alexandra. A funeral service will be held Wednesday at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel here.

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