Mike Atkinson joined W2 Communications in April 2016. As an account executive, he manages media relations, flagging award/speaking opportunities while identifying potential targets for client news for his client teams. Previously, Mike worked in-house as head of the marketing team at New Oasis International Education in Herndon, Va.
An award-winning PR professional, Mike won several West Virginia Public Relations Society of America awards in 2014, including a Crystal Award for “External Communications” and an honorable mention Crystal award for “Research” for his work with Green Earth Event Services. Mike graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, with an emphasis in public relations from West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media, where he also minored in communication studies. After graduating, Mike served as writer and editor for West Virginia University’s Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, where he handled media outreach, drafted press releases, created content for websites and wrote magazine features.
Describe yourself in two fictional characters.
Ben Wrightman, Fever Pitch: I grew up playing and watching baseball and love every part of the game. I love when Ben says: “You know what’s really great about baseball? You can’t fake it. You know, anything else in life you don’t have to be great in – business, music, art – I mean, you can get lucky. Yeah, you can fool everyone for a while, you know? … Not baseball … You can either hit a curveball or you can’t. You can have a lucky day, sure, but you can’t have a lucky career.
JD, Scrubs: I can relate to JD as a young professional trying to find his place in a fast-paced environment, all the while keeping a positive attitude and having fun doing it.
What technology innovation has made the most impact on your life?
Constant connectivity has made a huge impact on my professional life. I can’t imagine working in this industry without 24/7 access to it.
What is one important skill every person in PR should have?
You have to have thick skin about constructive criticism. You can’t take feedback personally because there’s not much time to beat yourself up over the little things.
What is your hidden talent?
Probably music – I don’t think many people know that I’m a recovering musician. I can play acoustic guitar, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, tuba and sing – but not at the same time.
Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer? Why?
If I had to pick one, I’d lean towards “gatherer.” I like to take advantage of the wisdom and experience around me. I know some of my peers have been working in PR for a long time and it would be silly not to tap into that.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever gotten?
One of my professors taught me to wait about ten seconds before asking another question in an interview because the interviewee will try to fill the silence. Some of the best quotes I’ve ever gotten have come during those awkward pauses.
What do you think public relations will look like in five years?
It’s tough to say, but there will always be a need for public relations. Different parts of businesses will come and go, but maintaining a positive brand reputation proves crucial to the success of a business.