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

crisis intervention.

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

and compassion.

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


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