Capitol Communicator is running a series of profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this “up close and personal” profile, we feature Mitch Marovitz, Ph.D., APR. Photography for this series is by Cade Martin; wardrobe styling by Pascale Lemaire for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup by Patti D Nelson and Janice Kinigopoulos for THE Artist Agency.
Mitch, please provide us a short bio.
I retired from the Army in 2002 as a colonel after serving 30 years in a variety of public affairs positions including Chief of Army Public Affairs-Los Angeles Branch; and Director of Media Operations for American Forces Information Service. I also served as Commander of American Forces Radio and Television Service networks in Central America and Europe; as well as Commander/Publisher of the European edition of Stars and Stripes. From 2004-2012, I was at Booz Allen Hamilton, where I led strategic communications teams in support of Intelligence Community and Defense Department clients. Now, I’m assistant program director for Strategic Public Relations at The George Washington University College of Professional Studies’ Graduate School for Political Management and an adjunct professor of public relations and strategic communications. I also teach as an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland University College, Webster University and George Mason University.
Are you involved in any other organizations?
I’m very active in the Public Relations Society of America. I truly believe in the organization’s mission of advancing the profession and the professional. And I like to think I can contribute in some way. So, I am the 2015 President of the over 1,300-member National Capital Chapter – the largest PRSA chapter in the country. In addition to my work at the local level, I am also a member of the Universal Accreditation Board, the organization that oversees the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential. I know some question the need for the credential, but I believe in it. I’m convinced the knowledge I gained and the process I mastered while studying for the credential made me a better practitioner and more confident in the boardroom. Last year, I served on the UAB’s marketing and communications committee where I authored the communications plan supporting the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the APR. I also represented the UAB on PRSA’s Strengthening the APR Task Force. This year, I chair the Accredited in Public Relations and Military Communication work group.
I am also a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and, lastly, I consult for with[tv], a start-up media channel focused people with disabilities.
What are the things you are most proud of?
I’ve had a wondrous career – one full of doing what I consider to be important things in exotic and not so exotic places with amazing and truly talented people. While, it’s hard to come up with just a few things I’m most proud of, I think the biggest things – the ones with the most impact – included representing the U.S. Army in Los Angeles and with the entertainment industry. I regularly visited the studios and independent writers and producers to see what stories they were imagining and was able to establish solid relationships with them. This resulted in our ability to assist in the production of several films including Dan Petrie, Jr.’s 1994 “In the Army Now,” Penny Marshall’s 1994 “Renaissance Man,” HBO’s 1995 “The Tuskegee Airmen” and John Sayles’ 1996 “Lone Star,” among other productions.
As important – and glamorous – the work with Hollywood was, it was only part of my job in LA. I also was very proud of the community relations work I did; representing the Secretary of the Army at Veterans Day, Memorial Day and July 4th events throughout the greater LA area. And, perhaps most important was the work my office did in getting military and state and local public affairs offices together for professional development and planning coordination activities. The results of our efforts became visible during the successful crisis communications effort necessitated by the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.
Who were your personal role models?
First, my dad: He inspired me to always do my best and do what I liked. He also gave me a strong sense of duty and an understanding of how lucky I was to have been born in the United States. It was the stories he told that made me understand I owed my country something for the privilege of being born here. That drove me to ROTC in college and the Army after that. Brig. Gen. Norman Archibald, then-Commander, 5th Signal Command, and Col. Dave Cordonnier, Deputy Commander, 5th Signal Command. Both were tough as nails but fair. They taught me about leadership and caring for my subordinates. They guided me and allowed me to make mistakes to learn how to deal with a world full of unknowns. And, Maj. Gen. Charles W. (Bill) McLain, Jr., Chief of Public Affairs; a true gentleman and great leader who had full trust and confidence in me. He let me lead. He also let me make mistakes and taught me about leading large organizations.
Did your role models offer professional advice that helped you in your career?
Here are a few pieces of advice that shaped my career: First, do what you like, study it hard, practice and you’ll naturally do it well. Second, do your research; know your subject; be confident in your abilities, but also know when to ask for help. It’s okay to make mistakes if you learn from them. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, always take care of the people who work for you and their families.
What professional advice do you have for others?
In addition to the advice I received from others, I think it’s important to know your audience and understand their needs and wants – and understand the difference. Also, keep up and continually expand your networks. Further, I think it’s important to learn and embrace principles of leadership and management as you advance in your career. At some point, you will lead a team and they will be looking to you for guidance and support. Know how to support them and still accomplish your goals and objectives on time and on budget. Lastly, our profession is changing: in order to accomplish our organization’s goals and objectives it is increasingly necessary to work as a member of an integrated communications team, so understand the role of marketing and advertising in your organization and learn to work as an integrated team.
What advice do you have on what’s appropriate attire for your organization?
I find a sport coat and tie with dress pants is appropriate in most situations for men, although sport coat with an open-collar dress shirt works in some situations. Also, while it may sound silly to some, a nice pair of shoes goes a long way in establishing your professionalism. When I was stationed in LA, I always wore my uniform. The other officers would show up in polo shirts. In joint meetings, the producers and screenwriters would always turn to me for advice…because I looked the part; like I knew what I was talking about.
Where do you buy most of the clothes you wear?
I go to Nordstrom’s, Saks and Peek & Cloppenburg and I get my shoes at Allen Edmonds
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
I’m a generally positive person: the glass is half full for me. I consider myself very lucky to have lived the life I have lived and to have been able to share it with my wife; I’ve been blessed to be able to do what I think is important work, work that I like and to do it in exotic (and sometimes not so nice) places with very talented and very dedicated professionals.
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