Spotlight on 2016 Thomas Jefferson Award Winner: Mike Mulvihill, APR

20141120_PadillaCRT_Richmond_Mulvihill_0023Mike Mulvihill, APR, executive vice president at PadillaCRT, is this year’s winner of the Thomas Jefferson Award for Excellence, which recognizes the achievement of a seasoned public relations practitioner who has made an ongoing commitment to the advancement of the profession.

At PadillaCRT, Mulvihill leads the agency’s corporate practice. Throughout his career, he has worked with a wide range of consumer and business-to-business (B2B) clients, including Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, food commodity boards, colleges and universities, banks, associations, professional services organizations, nonprofits and technology firms. He has developed an array of award-winning national, regional and statewide programs that achieve meaningful business and organizational outcomes.

Describe what receiving the Thomas Jefferson Award means to you.

Humbled, honored, surprised. Knowing the many good people and fine practitioners who have been honored in the past, I am honored to be considered worthy of inclusion in their company.

When you look back on your career, is there a particular highlight or definitive moment that comes to mind? Feel free to share a few.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 6.45.39 PMThe 50th anniversary of Mount Rushmore was a truly historic moment. Standing on the top of the head of Thomas Jefferson with a CNN crew filming a three-day, July 4th holiday weekend homage to Mount Rushmore was an unforgettable moment, and somewhat ironic now given this award.

Malice in DallasBut my favorite moment was the day my oldest daughter called home to tell me that they had studied the Malice in Dallas event we had created and executed — an arm wrestling contest between Herb Kelleher, CEO of Southwest Airlines and our client, Stevens Aviation CEO Kurt Herwald for the rights to a contested ad slogan — as a case study in one of her college marketing classes.


We’re sure a number of people look up to you as a mentor. Who do you consider to be your mentor, and why?

Overall, I would consider my partners at PadillaCRT — Mark Raper and Brian Ellis — my biggest mentors. My first boss — Tom Ryan at then Fortune 500 company Dayco — had a big impact. As a fledgling practitioner, he always asked if I was truly ready for him to review my work. I truly wasn’t much of the time. Perhaps the best life mentor advice I ever got came through a summer job changing car and truck tires at a Firestone dealer in Dover, New Jersey. I was near the end of the summer, about two weeks shy of heading back to college, and I hated that job. It was dirty, hard work. It took hours to get rid of all the brake dust ground into your hands before you could head out on a Friday night. My aura was obviously emanating that I was not into the job.

My boss pulled me aside and said you’re going to be here for another two weeks, so why not decide you’re going to enjoy the time instead of being unhappy. It was a true life-lesson learning experience on how it is not what life deals you, but how you deal with it, that has stayed with me.

In your mind, what are the benefits of PRSA Richmond to the Richmond PR community?

Many and multi-faceted. If you’re serious about making public relations your vocation and avocation, you should be a part of PRSA. The APR accreditation is a critical validation of our professional credibility. Especially for those who are not working day-to-day with a group of professional peers, it is a great place to validate what you do know, and perhaps, more critically, what you don’t know. Overall, it has helped raise the quality of our profession in the Richmond marketplace.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I can’t say loudly or strongly enough how integral it is to have a great work family. For me, I have had the great fortune of a fantastic work family throughout my career here in Richmond. A true family. Supportive, helping one another become better practitioners and better people, picking up the balls that drop knowing you’ll do the same for them. It has made my life a far superior journey, and I am  — and will remain — eternally grateful.