Just like the funniest inside jokes that erupt spontaneously from exchanges with close pals, the most compelling PR ideas in Michael “Mikey” Mooney’s experience are hatched while chatting with colleagues, clients, family and friends. His rise through the ranks at Atlanta’s Poston Communications and upward trajectory with PRSA – locally, regionally and nationally – however, are no laughing matter.
After obtaining a Master of Arts in Public Relations and Advertising from the University of Georgia, Mikey landed an internship with Poston Communications. Seven years later, he is the firm’s vice president. He credits CEO Dave Poston and President Monica Smith for serving as mentors from day one, empowering him to learn, lead and try new things for the agency and its clients.
Mikey also dived headlong into the PRSA membership experience, serving on the PRSA International Conference Committee when the event was held in Atlanta in 2015. He also served on PRSA Georgia’s Annual Conference Committee, including as co-chair in 2017. Mikey currently sits on PRSA Georgia’s Board of Directors and looking ahead, he’s been tapped to serve as treasurer on the Board of Directors for the PRSA Southeast District in 2021.
With such dedicated service to the industry, Mikey was bound to start turning heads. In 2019, he was named one of PRNEWS’ Rising Stars 30 and Under. The next year, he was also named to PRSA Georgia’s 2020 Forty Under 40 class following his 2017 Rising Star Award and previous recognition as a Chapter Champion.
This installment of Chapter Chat, a member-focused series featuring candid commentary along with industry insights, catches up with one of PRSA Georgia’s brightest stars. Let’s get to know Mikey Mooney in his own words.
Question: October is Global Diversity Awareness Month. What does this mean to you?
Answer: While I believe most businesses have a good-faith earnest desire to do better with regards to diversity, the root causes of our shortcomings are deeply rooted and systemic. As communicators, we have an opportunity – and a responsibility – to invest in true progress. Yes, it’s important to consider implicit bias and establish protocols and metrics in our recruiting efforts in the short-term, but we also have to consider an endless list of other factors that must be addressed to meet the essential partners to diversity: opportunity, inclusion and equity.
That means investing in our communities and ensuring there are opportunities for equality in education starting from K-12 programs and beyond; advocating for policy that improves lives and strengthens support systems in vulnerable communities; and once we make strides with diversity in our own organizations, continuing the work to ensure our workplace is worthy of the diverse talent we recruit. To do any of this, we have to listen and accept responsibility for our own failings, and more importantly, we have to do the work – not for any “business case for diversity,” but because it’s the right thing to do.
Q: You’ve been heavily engaged and involved in the Chapter. What motivates you to devote your time and talents to PRSA Georgia?
A: Our Chapter is made up of some of the brightest, most passionate and hardworking professionals in the industry. It has been immeasurably rewarding to have the opportunity to work with and learn from them. Engaging with the Chapter often and early in my career gave me a lot of teaching moments thanks to the people I’ve met through volunteer roles and networking events. It’s easy to stay motivated for improvement when you’re surrounded by so many inspirational people.
Q: Looking beyond the pandemic (optimistically), what are your hopes and aspirations for the PRSA Georgia Chapter?
A: The Chapter has done an amazing job adjusting in an unprecedented time, especially since so many of us get involved with organizations like ours for the community aspect. We’re plowing through with virtually celebrating this year’s Forty Under 40 this month, the annual Awards Celebration in November and the Annual Conference in early 2021. I’ve had the opportunity to help the committees organizing those events, and they’re putting in a lot of work to ensure they’ll continue to be amazing events.
The lessons learned from these forced adjustments could open the door for some new and innovative events in the future that engage folks outside of Atlanta and even beyond state and national borders. As we work to encourage diversity and opportunity in our profession, the opportunity to break down physical barriers and increase access to our great members and resources is something to be excited about.
With that said, I’m so excited to get back into the room with our colleagues for our major annual events, our monthly luncheons and additional events that our innovative committees have been developing.
Q: Can you tell our readers about the day-to-day at Poston Communications?
A: We work with professional services organizations in highly regulated industries to provide strategic communications counsel to help leaders most effectively connect with their clients, colleagues, prospects and anyone else important to their success. Our agency is well recognized in the legal industry as well as for our work with financial services, B2B tech providers, executive consultants and some really exciting public affairs campaigns. Whether gaining exposure through a digital or traditional media relations campaign, developing or integrating with business development strategies, producing terrific content or navigating complex situations in a crisis, our goal is to improve people’s lives – personally and professionally – through excellent communications.
Q: And what about your new role with the PRSA Southeast District?
A: I’m honored and grateful that the Southeast District would think of me for this role, and I’m excited for the chance to serve and help in any way I can. My role with PRSA Georgia over the past few years has been very financial in nature, so I’m hopeful that my experience translates to success for the Southeast District in my role as treasurer.
Q: How do you relax or spend your leisure time?
A: Neither of these are relaxing… but playing golf poorly and stress watching University of Georgia football are my happy places. My crazy dog, Grit, is also far from relaxing, but she makes spending all this extra time at home a much better experience.
Q: In tough times like we are experiencing now, how can businesses and organizations best flex their PR muscles?
A: It may feel chaotic out there, but we have an opportunity to be a calming force to help our organizations, clients and customers rise above the challenges we’re all facing. When the pandemic hit and the economy shut down, we had the opportunity to help leaders instill confidence with their teams and communicate hard truths. We were also able to collaborate with leaders to find innovative ways to best serve our colleagues, clientele and communities. Pardon the overused communications phrase, but “in this time of uncertainty,” we can continue to provide clarity, confidence and strategic guidance for businesses navigating the storm.
Q: Do you have a favorite PRSA Georgia Chapter memory and if so, can you tell us the story?
A: I was unspeakably touched to be recognized with the Rising Star Award a few years ago. It was a special night and a rare opportunity to bring together in one room so many important people in my life. My mom, sister and girlfriend shared a table with my Poston Communications family, and everyone got the chance to meet my closest friends in PRSA Georgia… and the wine was on Poston Communications’ tab.