QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: Larry Mathias

He does his job by the seat of his pants (literally) and, believe it or not, used to sport an impressive afro. Meet George from Seinfeld - excuse us, Larry Mathias, director of communications for Spirian Technologies.

He does his job by the seat of his pants (literally) and, believe it or not, used to sport an impressive afro. Meet George from Seinfeld - excuse us, Larry Mathias, director of communications for Spirian Technologies.

He does his job by the seat of his pants (literally) and, believe it or not, used to sport an impressive afro. Meet George from Seinfeld - excuse us, Larry Mathias, director of communications for Spirian Technologies.



Describe the company you work for Spirian Technologies is a 70-person, Chicago-based IT management services firm that provides automated application deployment and remote desktop management. (Come again? - Ed)



What do you do there? I'm responsible for PR, Internet marketing, Web site development and maintenance, internal communications and project management for the corporate communications department.



How did you get into PR? In the early 1980s, I was a freelance sports writer, then a professional bowler. In 1986, the American Bowling Congress was looking for an on-site PR person for its six-month-long tournament.



How did you get from that to 'remote desktop management'? In 1990, I was hired as the one-man marketing communications department supporting a network of 44 state organizations. One of the tasks was to maintain a bulletin board of press releases. That position showed me the importance of technology even in non-technology industries. Since then, I've worked for some of the world's top technology companies, including Computer Associates, SPSS and Spirian.



What is your most embarrassing moment? I talked my way into press credentials to a major golf tournament. On the first hole, I crouched down so I wouldn't block the view of the paying public and split my pants. Golf pro Tom Watson heard the sound, pulled a sweater from his bag and loaned it to me so I could tie it around my waist.



What would you like to change about the PR industry? To change two misconceptions: that anyone with a little marketing knowledge can do PR, and that quantity of press releases is a valid metric. I once worked for someone who insisted on a set number of press releases a week regardless of whether there was 'real' news to announce or not.



Who do you most look like? Jason Alexander, the actor who played George Costanza on Seinfeld.



Name one thing about your past that people would be surprised to learn In the late '70s, I taught disco at the local park district. I still have a photo of me with a giant Afro haircut, wearing a silk shirt, a leisure suit vest, and a trio of gold chains around my neck.

What is your best ability? Tenacity. When I was 11, I had a school project to read a book on baseball and complete an activity chosen from a list from the book publisher. I selected 'interviewing a pro baseball player.' My teacher said there was no way I could do that, and I should select another project. I refused and called the Chicago White Sox. I ended up talking my way into tickets for the game and an interview with my favorite player in the dugout.



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