He's one of the many PR people who have put their talent where
their mouths are, and pitched in to help after the tragedies of
September 11. Meet Mike Smith, president of Upstart Vision.
Describe the company you work for. Upstart is a six-person tech and
telecom PR and business development shop in Reston, VA. We have just
expanded to a second townhouse office and bashed out a cinder block to
network our computers and growing staff. We like bashing out bricks.
Tell us something amusing about your company. There is nothing amusing
about tech and telecom right now, folks.
Where else have you worked? Most recently I was VP of tech for Edelman
PR in Washington, DC. Before that I was public affairs director for the
National Association of Manufacturers. I also worked at
Burson-Marsteller, Chicago, in consumer PR, and Dow Chemical Company in
What is your greatest achievement? Following the World Trade Center and
Pentagon tragedies, I have been able to use my crisis communications
skills at the Pentagon's Family Crisis Center to assist military and
civilian family members in finding out information or in the grieving
process. I have volunteered about 15 hours so far, including a trip to
the actual site of the bombing and plane wreck, using outreach skills
What are you working on this week? We are pitching webcasting as a means
of handling the national crisis and continuing to host meetings online.
Our client is Biznews 24, the streaming media company in Bedford, NH and
Washington, DC. It has Putnam and Hancock as clients, and both of these
brokerage and insurance firms are using webcasts to handle
communications to key clients and assuage fears.
What's the most daring thing you've ever done? Staying with my wife in
the delivery room throughout the birth of our two kids.
What was your biggest screw-up? Getting a Congressman to come to an
event by reminding him and his staff how much a corporation had provided
that year in campaign funding. OK - it's how Washington works, but
you're not supposed to tell them.
What time do you get up? I get up at 6:30am and read every page of The
Washington Post before I leave my house.
Who would you most like to work with? Harold Burson, Dan Edelman
Name one thing about your past people would be surprised to learn. I
used to be an athlete.
What is the secret of your success? Perseverance. I have "career
attention deficit disorder" and need a constant challenge. I need to be
excited and stimulated by the work. I love our profession.
What's your party trick? I used to be able to flip a burning cigarette
inside my mouth without touching the flame. But I haven't smoked for 12