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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Five Minutes with a Legend: Dave Mona

Dave Mona is the chairman of the Minneapolis office of Weber Shandwick, which has its roots in the one-person shop he started in 1981. Mona also is the co-host of "Sports Huddle with Sid & Dave" on WCCO Radio.

1.  What are the highlights of your public relations career?

The only truly unique thing I’ve done was to write a news release that I had been fired as VP of Communications at The Toro Company during an economic downturn in 1981. It turned out to be a significant date as they offered to become a client if I were inclined to start my own PR firm. That was the beginning of what was a one-person shop, David L. Mona & Associates, in the spring of 1981. Joining forces with Dennis McGrath in 1983 was a major step in building a large regional firm, and merging with Dorn Communications in 1986 brought us together with Scott Meyer and Sara Gavin. Out of that came Mona Meyer McGrath and Gavin and a partnership that lasted for 15 years and a friendship that will last forever. Becoming part of Shandwick in 1988 certainly accelerated our growth and helped us become a true global player.

2.  What are some of the key lessons that you have learned in your career?

From the beginning we hired great people into a climate of mutual trust and respect. We thought from the beginning that if we created a great work environment that we would attract and retain the best employees and best clients. We also knew from the beginning that we wanted to give back to the community. I’m proud of our various pro bono programs and the way our employees embrace them.

3.  You have hosted the Sunday Morning Sports Huddle with Sid Hartman for 30 years. Who are some of your close personal friends?

I reserve the Close Personal Friends category for Sid. It was an invention of the late Steve Cannon that stuck. I can’t believe I’ve been doing that show for more than 30 years. It was only 25 minutes long when I started back in 1981, and it’s been two and a half hours for the last 25 years or so. I enjoyed working with Eric Eskola and his clever introductions for more than a decade. I always looked forward to the Tom Kelly Show and learned something new about baseball from him almost every week. Nothing is more fun than doing the show from the Minnesota State Fair where we get to work with a live audience. And what could be more fun than working with Sid and his animated opinions of the geniuses, stiffs and jerks who populate our audience and the state legislature.

4.  What advice would you give to new public relations practitioners?

Make sure it’s where your passion lies. Do you look forward to going to work? Are you surrounded by smart, creative and motivated coworkers? Is there an environment in which your work is appreciated by your coworkers and clients? Do you have a life outside the office? Do you have the best stories to tell when you go back to your high school reunion?

5.  Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Good for now. Thanks.

-- Brant Skogrand, APR, MBC / Skogrand PR Solutions, LLC