QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: Al Vinikour

He shamelessly exploits his nine-month-old twin grandsons in order to make a successful pitch, and was once a mailman. Meet one-man band Al Vinikour.

He shamelessly exploits his nine-month-old twin grandsons in order to make a successful pitch, and was once a mailman. Meet one-man band Al Vinikour.

Describe the company you work for Vinikour Communications is basically a one-man operation with an international focus.

What do you do? My main affiliation is with North American Precis Syndicate.

I primarily serve the automotive, aerospace, and defense industries. I also develop and/or sell advertising for a host of association and corporate contact directories.

Tell us something interesting about your company A tremendous variety of projects are handled here, everything from working on major weapons systems when they're encountering funding problems to promoting corporate themes.

How did you get into PR? My ex-father-in-law, Bill Derus, rescued me from a life of accounting, and brought me into the business.

What is your greatest achievement? After 34 years, I'm still active in an industry I care about, and work with people I admire.

What was your best pitch? When my kids were small, I'd speak with clients, and tell them that as I was leaving the house, my kids would ask me, "Daddy, when can I have something to eat? I told the prospect that I would look at their hollowed-out little eyes, and say, "Maybe so-and-so will buy something today, and we can go to the day-old bread store tonight and buy something. I use the same pitch today about my nine-month-old twin grandsons.

What was your biggest screw-up? Mistaking the diagonal lines on a contact photo for leaded glass on a recipe feature I was doing for a client. Ironically, it achieved one of the highest placements of any recipe feature I had ever done.

What's the most daring thing you've ever done? Low-level bombing missions on B-52 and B-1B strategic bombers.

If you could work on one account, what would it be? The former Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, my favorite account for almost 25 years before the merger with Martin. It had the best, pure newspeople, and most PR depth in the entire aerospace industry.

What invention would make your job easier? An invisible, electric cattle prod to keep me in line.

Write the headline for the story you would most like to read in PRWeek "Al Vinikour and entire family moves to Tahiti."

If you were an animal, what would you be? Living in Michigan, I don't have a choice: a wolverine.

Name one thing about your past people would be surprised to learn.

I was a full-time mailman from 1963-1966 in La Grange Park, IL.

What skill would you most like to have? Having things neat, instead of just knowing where everything is amid a mess.

Which historical figure would you most like to represent? Col. John S. Mosby, the legendary "Gray Ghost of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

What is the secret of your success? Seeing people as human beings, not as dollar signs.

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