He gets up as most junior PR execs go to bed, wrestles with
dolphins and has a soft spot for beavers. Meet Donald McGrath, Rockwell
International's director, global media relations.
Describe the company you work for Rockwell is a dollars 7 billion
electronic controls and communications company headquartered in
Milwaukee, working with industrial automation, avionics and
communications systems, and electronic call center technologies. We
employ nearly 40,000 people in over 450 global sites.
What do you do there? I lead all strategic international media relations
planning and execution. I am also senior corporate spokesman and
responsible for corporate PR and advertising.
What's your best-ever stunt? When I was directing PR at West Point, I
developed and executed the entire comms strategy for dealing with a
highly visible sexual harassment incident. The Academy's handling of the
incident received favorable national media coverage and was awarded a
PRSA Silver Anvil in 1995.
What was your biggest screw-up? Learning early on in Washington, DC,
that even casual conversations with reporters could end up in print the
next day as unattributed leaks. I quickly recognized that journalists
are always working, regardless of whether the microphone is on or the
pen is put away.
What is the most daring thing you've ever done, in or out of work?
Rescuing my bride from being assaulted by two dolphins while on our
honeymoon at a Caribbean dive resort. I needed a kayak and an oar to pry
her away from the pair. They had sandwiched her between them in 40 feet
of water and were rolling her back and forth. Now we know why they
called him 'Flip-her' on TV.
What was your most embarrassing moment? When my wife insisted to the
gathered crowd the dolphins were just 'playing.'
What are you working on this week? I'm developing the communications
strategy and plan to relaunch Rockwell International as Rockwell
Automation following the spin-off of the Rockwell Collins business unit
at the end of June 2001.
What time do you get up? At about 4:30 am to work out and watch the
early morning news.
What invention would make your job easier? A crystal ball that really
works. Despite our best-developed strategies, there is always an element
of uncertainty and risk in the execution. I'd like to 'see' how our PR
efforts will truly influence the final outcome.
Write the headline for the story you would most like to read in PRWeek
'Fortune 100 CEO's Agree: PR Indispensable to Corporate Success.'
If you were an animal what would you be? A beaver - the ultimate PR
animal. They're great builders, hard workers, know how to change the
river's course in mid-stream and plug up all the leaks.
What do you wish you hadn't said to the media? 'Our conversation has
been off-the-record, right?'