New MassMedia PR Director Dave Sheehan talks going to school with Madonna and all things space travel
Why agency life? Why PR?
I think it’s a natural outgrowth from being in journalism for most of my life. It is an area where I can use my experience in broadcasting, journalism and owning my own video production company.
Favorite thing about public relations?
Besides working with our awesome PR team at MassMedia, I enjoy learning about our clients and looking at the various ways to help them achieve their goals.
Most excited about at MassMedia?
The opportunity to help businesses grow. I support anything that improves the local economy.
What’s the best advice someone has given you in your life?
My news director at a Michigan radio station advised me to “just tell the story” and not make things more complex than they have to be. Also, don’t waste time on unnecessary things. This advice changed my approach to writing and journalism. Additionally, I learned that if you don’t understand the story yourself, then others won’t understand, and you can’t adequately present the information to the public.
What are your thoughts on the current media landscape in Las Vegas?
Most media want to tell compelling stories and they want to provide helpful and relevant information to their viewers and readers. It’s not just about presenting facts and figures. It’s about telling stories that viewers and readers can relate to, that are understandable by the general public while being helpful and relevant.
What is your life philosophy?
Treat others as you want to be treated. Communicate with others and encourage others to do likewise. That’s why I got into communications. If we had more open, honest and consistent communication in our society, we would have a much better world. We need to have those dialogues – people are not mind readers.
What inspires you?
Success stories. Whether it is an individual or company, when I read and learn about them, I see there are so many possibilities in life. You don’t want to limit yourself. For every problem or challenge, there is a solution.
What hobby would you have if time and money weren’t an issue?
I would travel the world, especially Europe and Australia… just to get a sense of how other people live in the world and what their culture and society is like. It would open my mind and expand my horizons. Traveling in a private jet would make it even better ?
What interests you?
I am really interested in science and space travel. My dad worked on the Apollo program that put men on the moon. Science opens doors. Apollo opened our minds that we can achieve whatever we want. Thousands of people worked on that project. Every time I look at the moon, I think about the 12 people who have walked on the lunar surface and it blows my mind.
What are some of your best memories?
I grew up on a farm in Wisconsin with four horses, 15 cats and a dog. Plus, we had crops like wheat and soybeans. When I was six years old, I was driving a huge truck out in the fields. It was a great childhood. I also produced comedy shows in Montana and even did some stand-up comedy at one point in my life. I’m no Jerry Seinfeld, but I did okay and had a lot of fun.
What fictional place would you most like to go?
It’s not fictional, but I’d like to go to Mars. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. Unfortunately, NASA required 20-20 vision to be an astronaut, so I had to rule that out as a profession.
What job would you be terrible at?
Accounting…I’m terrible with numbers. I have great admiration for accountants.
Being able to have a career that has included so many fun experiences and given me so many amazing opportunities. I’ve been able to interview hundreds of interesting people, including celebrities and even a U.S. president and First Lady.
Definitely “The Martian” by Andy Weir. It’s inspiring and it is on one of my favorite topics – space travel.
Favorite music genre?
Classic rock. The Beatles, Alan Parsons, Chicago, Elton John, the Moody Blues, Yes, America, etc.
If you could have lunch with one person, who would it be?
Paul McCartney, for sure.
Three words to describe yourself?
Funny, creative and determined.
What is one of your favorite smells?
Coffee. I’ve been drinking it since I was 18. I remember trying coffee at the age of 12. My mom warned me it would stunt my growth. But clearly she was wrong, because I’m 6’6”.
What challenging thing are you working through these days?
Being the single dad of a 14-year-old daughter. 14 going on 20.
If you didn’t live in Las Vegas, where is your ideal place to live?
I’d live in Great Falls, Montana – I love it there! I spent 16 years in Great Falls and have many awesome friends there. Whenever I visit, I feel totally at home.
What was it like to attend school with Madonna?
Madonna and I attended the same junior high and high school in Rochester, Michigan, so I saw her pretty much every day for six years. We both served on Student Council and I remember serving lemonade with her at school dances. Madonna never made it to any of our reunions, but the paparazzi showed up, nonetheless. Before she was a big star, I wrote to her manager and asked to interview her for a story that would go out to the more than 3,000 TV and radio stations. I explained to the manager that I knew Madonna from way back. Her manager wrote back and said, “We’re sorry, but Madonna is too busy touring.” I still have that letter!
During your childhood, what stuck with you the most?
As a young child, I wrote a letter to NASA asking if they would give me a used spacecraft, specifically one of the Gemini or Apollo capsules that had returned to Earth. I said I would put it in my backyard and take good care of it. NASA wrote back, saying, “Thank you for your kind offer but our spacecraft go to the Smithsonian.” Nonetheless, I was glad I tried. That mindset has stuck with me. Moral of the story is, “You never know until you try.”