Encourage others. There’s no way the agency would be where it is today if there was a mentality of competition and one-upmanship
You could say Nancy Behrman began her career at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. No, she wasn’t an ice dancer or speed skater, she was hired to create buzz around Jami Morse and her fiancé, Klaus Heidegger. He was competing for the Austrian ski team, she was teaching them aerobics and on the verge of taking the helm at Kiehl’s Since 1851. In only days, Jami landed on the cover of the New York Times’ Sports Section, in USA Today, on Good Morning America…and the aerobics craze was born. Nancy made it happen and the mantra and work ethic followed her throughout her career. “I will make it happen.”
In 1985, Nancy founded Behrman Communications with Kiehl’s Since 1851 as her first client— a stellar case study in how an effective and innovative public relations campaign can elevate a brand. The company remained a star client until its sale to L’Oréal in 2001. In 1993, Burt’s Bees became a client and followed a similar route, selling to an investment group for (80 percent stake) in 2003 and again to Clorox for $925 million in 2007. As a result, Nancy has earned a reputation for taking small ideas and turning them into multi-million dollar ventures. For more than three decades, Behrman Communications’ clients have included a broad range of brands, both corporate and niche, including Clarisonic, Creed, eos, Fresh, Lancôme, L’Oréal Paris, Oakley, Philosophy, Red Flower, Shu Uemura, Trish McEvoy, Tweezerman, Ulta and Vita Liberata.
One of the pioneers in the world of lifestyle brand publicity, Nancy Behrman was also one of the first to understand the influential role that beauty and health could have on the celebrity and media world…or the other way around, depending on how you look at it. Over the years, she has developed the most successful creative partnerships for her clients with everything from charities like AMFAR to celebrity events like the Academy Awards and Emmy’s. She has earned the trust and respect of premier influencers in the business from celebrity makeup artists, stylists, and aestheticians to the top physicians in dermatology and plastic surgery around the country.
As the owner of one of the most dynamic agencies in the increasingly competitive and evolving field of public relations, Nancy knows the value of her “hands on” approach. It works for business and family. Nancy Berhman currently resides in Manhattan and has two beautiful daughters, Caroline, and Elizabeth.
Where did the idea for Behrman Communications come from?
After two plus years of working as an Assistant at a small public relations firm, I knew I had it in me to forge my own way. I put my time in and I was highly motivated.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
At this point in my career, I am in back-to-back meetings nearly every day. These meetings range from internals with senior staff to new business to account maintenance with clients.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Mainly experience. After thirty years, I know what works and if I don’t, someone else in the agency does. That said, we always make an effort to do what hasn’t been done before.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The health and wellness space has really blown up in the past few years, and as a culture, we’re becoming much more health conscious. It’s exciting and inspiring to work in a healthy environment and grow brands with personal stories that want to change the way we think about what we put into and onto our bodies.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I get a weekly manicure. I know it’s unconventional, but it keeps me feeling put together and I do some of my best thinking there.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Because I started my company at age 25, I haven’t had much experience working for anyone else. That said, cocktail waitressing at night and doing PR by day was stressful in the beginning.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Encourage others. There’s no way the agency would be where it is today if there was a mentality of competition and one-upmanship. I’ve had that atmosphere here before, and I won’t tolerate it.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Take the path less traveled. The tried and true practices work, but they’ll only take you so far. If you have a new way of looking at something, act on it.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Entrusting too much work and responsibility to one other person only. This breeds egomania and awkward issues with boundaries and roles. Trust yourself or trust a team.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Make sure your clients understand the importance of sampling their products or services. Without that component, you will not have the kind of success you strive for. If a potential new business refuses to sample, don’t take them on. You are not set up for success.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Catching up over dinner with my best friend, who is also in the industry. We always have so much fun and walk away with a brilliant new business idea.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
Our software engineers have developed proprietary software that allows us to use statistical modeling to predict the best possible approach for a specific client.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The most important thing is to read, this helps with writing so much. It may not seem like public relations is necessarily a writing field, but that is so much of what we do. You cannot communicate unless you have strong writing skills, people will not take you seriously. As for my favorite book, anything by Junot Diaz is spectacular, especially “This Is How You Lose Her” and ”The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” You won’t put them down.