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VIProfile: Cynthia Moxley and Alan Carmicheal




Public relations firm Moxley Carmichael has been around so long and is so well known that it may be difficult to remember the time when there was just one name on the company: Moxley Communications.

When the couple, who were married in 1984, met, Cynthia was a journalist, and Alan worked in the Communications Department at TVA. They met through friends, all journalists, except Alan who was a former journalist, having spent 11 years at “The Tennessean.” They went ontheir first date without the group in 1983.

“There was a rainbow in the sky when Alan picked me up, so that became our symbol” said Cynthia.

“We always tell each other when we see a rainbow,” added Alan. Cynthia left the “Knoxville Journal” in 1990 and freelanced prior to starting Moxley Communications in 1992.

“I thought it was going to be mostly freelance writing,” she said, “but it quickly turned into PR. The business grew quickly with early clients, Clayton Homes and Jim Clayton (as book author), the Chamber of Commerce, Pilot and KUB.” Alan joined the business in 1998.

“She was doing pretty well,” said Alan, “I’d been at TVA 18 years. It was time to leave,”
They weren’t sure it was going to work out. At the time, Alan was Senior Vice President of Communications at TVA.”

“Cynthia said to me ‘You’ve worked in this hierarchical organization; we’re kind of flat,’” Alan recalled. “I said well, let’s give it a try and see how it works out.”

They consulted with a psychologist and a local couple who run a business together.

“The psychologist said, ‘Either he can adapt to your way of structuring a company, or you can split the company,’” said Cynthia. “After a couple of months, I asked ‘So how do you like it?’ and he said ‘I like it.’” “It’s the difference between turning an ocean liner and turning a speed boat,” said Alan.

The couple Cynthia and Alan consulted had two pieces of advice: discuss everything and make major decisions together.

Things worked out so well that before long Moxley Communications became Moxley Carmichael.

“It helps to live together,” said Cynthia. “You have the additional time to compare notes. Our work life and our home life are interwoven.”

“Our business is 24/7,” explained Alan. “If a client has an issue, you have to deal with it.”

“We run the company the way we do because we love Knoxville,” Alan continued. “We want [Knoxville] to grow and prosper. That’s why we support so many community organizations like the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, the Urban League, YoungWilliams Animal Center, UT College of Communications and Clarence Brown Theatre.”

“We give more than $200,000 annually in financial contributions and in-kind donations,” said Cynthia. “We started The Blue Streak [blog] 11 years ago. It’s good for the organization we’re covering, it’s good for Knoxville and it’s good for us.”

“We celebrated our company’s 25th anniversary last year,” said Alan.

“I think Knoxville is a special place,” Cynthia pointed out. “I don’t think you could do this in every city. You can have a positive impact pretty quickly. You can build relationships pretty quickly.”

They are proud of the company’s organizational culture.

“Supporting Knoxville is in our DNA,” said Alan. “The company is built on teamwork and collaboration. You have to be able to support each other, and we do.”

“We’re all friends, and that matters a lot” said Cynthia. “We’re involved in each other’s personal lives. We celebrate everyone’s accomplishments. A lot of our people have been with us a long time.”

Alan’s role is changing.

“He’s going to be more of a mentor, teacher and coach,” said Cynthia. “He’ll pitch in with crisis management and the big picture.”

“Even though I have this changing role, if your name is on the company, you’re always going to be involved in some way or another,” said Alan.

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