Michael Kaye | The Innovator 25 North America 2021

Michael Kaye

Global Communications Manager


New York, NY    

Hometown: New City, NY

“Millennials and Gen Z are passionate and vocal about civic engagement, climate change, LGBTQ+ rights, mental health, and racial equity, and that’s being reflected in the campaigns we are creating for brands."

Michael Kaye recently took on a new role as part of the global communications team at LinkedIn. But just before this leap, he had a remarkable run at the online dating darling OKCupid. At a time when the news cycle was dominated with the pandemic and politics, he increased press placements by 195%.  He did this, in part, by telling the story on how OKCupid normalized disclosing gender pronouns — resulting in a double-digit increase in non-binary people signing up on OKCupid.

What professional accomplishment are you most proud of? 
I love getting to lead brand-forward, purpose-driven initiatives. As a communicator and storyteller, I find it paramount to enable and support positive change through my professional and personal life. Last year I wanted to make an even greater impact beyond my day-to-day work and I was able to fundraise over $15,000 in corporate and personal donations to leading nonprofit organizations, including the ACLU, Black Girls Code, Campaign Zero, Equal Justice Initiative, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, NAACP, and Planned Parenthood. These organizations support everything from LGBTQ+ advocacy and political lobbying to advancing rights for POC, and it was an honor to support their incredible work.

We're at a pivotal moment on the future of the office and how we work. How would like to see 'office/work culture' evolve?
I'd love to see companies incorporate more flexibility and trust into their workplace culture. What excited me most about joining LinkedIn was its continued commitment to its employees. Companies cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach to the future of work, which is why LinkedIn trusts its employees and teams to do what works best for them, and is also offering hybrid and remote roles. Adaptation is the key to progress.

How can the PR industry make real progress in diversity, inclusion and equity?
Agencies and communication teams need to remain committed to hiring BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people, and we also need to recruit more women, especially women of color, into leadership positions. OkCupid was the first time I saw an LGBTQ+ person in the C-suite and seeing someone like myself represented in a leadership role made me realize I could do it too. When considering a new role outside OkCupid, it was important to me that I was joining a company that prioritized diversity, equity and inclusion. Globally, women represent nearly 42% of LinkedIn’s leadership — and representation by women at LinkedIn in technical leadership roles has seen a 79% increase in the last five years.

What makes you most excited or proud to be part of the PR industry? 
I’ve always had a passion for storytelling, and I love the impact public relations can — and does — have on businesses. We often do not get as much recognition as the other marketing teams, but there is real value in earned media and public relations. When I was at OkCupid we actually found that OkCupid users who downloaded the app after reading a news article in the United States were above average for spending money on the platform. I’d encourage everyone in the industry to find similar data and insights. Our work matters, and it’s important you are helping leadership recognize that.

What are your fears/concerns for our industry? 
We’re often described as not being numbers people, and that needs to change. Public relations professionals need to become more comfortable and familiar with data analytics because data storytelling is the future.

What inspires you? This could be a person, place, activity, etc.
The next generation of communicators, innovators, marketers and storytellers. Millennials and Gen Z are passionate and vocal about civic engagement, climate change, LGBTQ+ rights, mental health, and racial equity, and that’s being reflected in the campaigns we are creating for brands.

What are you thinking about most these days? 
What book I am going to read next.

What is your idea of happiness?
Being able to make a positive impact on my community and industry, and leaving this world better than the one I was born into.