Written and submitted by Nicole Cieslak
Chicago-born and Philly-raised, Michael Buckley had always loved two things: sports and writing. It was only natural that he combined his interests to study sports journalism at one of the nation’s top journalism schools at the University of Maryland. Years later, though, he never thought he would find himself at the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Applied Physics Lab (APL) supporting media relations for an APL-built spacecraft that was set to orbit an asteroid.
Upon graduating college in the early ‘90s, when full-time sports writing jobs were scarce, a friend recommended an associate editing position at a large Air Force enlisted organization, and Michael didn’t hesitate to dive right in. Having the opportunity to work with people at all levels on Capitol Hill and the Pentagon, he traveled and reported on stories from military installations and communities across the country. Driven by the challenge of trying something new, Michael was encouraged to eventually move into a contract marketing-communications position with the U.S. Army Environmental Center, where he got his first chance to cover relatively technical subjects and translate complicated concepts for a wide audience. This stepping-stone position allowed him to broaden his skillset and gave him the chance to work with talented military public affairs professionals who taught him the value of strategic communications. When he came across the media relations position for the JHU Applied Physics Lab, he never would have imagined himself working on spacecraft launches and planet flybys with a team of creative communications professionals. Little did he know that accepting that mission was just the beginning of a great communications ride.
Even after 16 years, Michael still maintains that initial passion for doing what he loves. From internal and external corporate communications and media relations to strategic planning, TV writing/production and STEM education outreach, there’s always something unique and exciting to work on each day. One of his favorite things about his current role is that each project can be a different experience and a chance to meet someone or learn something new about the important work the Applied Physics Laboratory does for the nation. While there’s nothing like working on a spacecraft launch when it feels like the whole world is watching, Michael just as much enjoys the simple, yet satisfying pleasure of telling the story of an engineer who had a clever idea for a device or technique that helped solve a tough problem.
When he’s not deep into aircraft launches or managing internal communications and special events, he’s coaching soccer and baseball, or catching the latest soccer or hockey game with friends and family. Although he’s received a lot of professional recognition over the years, Michael feels his best achievement thus far has been his family, including his two sons in college who are pursuing their own interests, and carving out their own career paths. And who knows, perhaps one day they’ll decide to follow in their father’s footsteps.
Michael Buckley is the public information officer and assistant supervisor for the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Michael will speak at the 2016 PRSA Maryland Conference on June 14 at Loyola University Maryland. Register today at www.prsamd.org/conference. #PRSAMD16.