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Taking a leap to start my own PR business

What is your full name and title? How long have you been in this role?

Natasha Koifman, President of NKPR. I started my full-service public relations and digital agency in 2002.

What exactly do you do?

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I founded NKPR because of my passion for sharing stories that matter. I love being involved in all aspects of the business, working closely on strategies for each client.

As the president of NKPR, business development is a key focus, ensuring we continue to be innovative and evolve. We created a digital division five years ago because we saw social media as an opportunity to connect directly with the public.

Supporting causes is at the core of NKPR's business and is weaved into everything we do. A cause close to my heart is Artists for Peace and Justice, an organization started by Paul Haggis to support sustainable development and education in Haiti. As the Canadian chair, I am involved on both a strategic and grassroots level including regular trips to Haiti and public relations efforts to raise funds and awareness.

Describe what you do on any given day.

Working in PR, every day is completely unique. For example, it could start with a morning meeting to present recommendations for a client, followed by a call to explore new business opportunities, before heading to an on-air appearance to talk about the latest Mulberry fashion trends.

There could be a media lunch to discuss story angles and then back to the office for a conference call with a client. This particular afternoon is dedicated to internal meetings to review and consult on client strategies. A call with my real estate broker regarding office space in Los Angeles and I'm headed to a marquee event for the evening.

Throughout the day, I am constantly updating Twitter and Instagram. I love that social media gives us the opportunity to connect with people who share similar interests.

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What's your background and education?

I majored in English and moved to New York to work as a journalist for several years. I came back to Toronto in the late 90s and fell in love with PR. It's all about sharing stories we are passionate about.

How did you get to your position?

I created NKPR in 2002, so I could control my own destiny and pick and choose the brands I work with. I started as a one-person shop out of my basement, doing unit publicity for film production companies followed by work with Visa Canada, leveraging their film festival sponsorships across the country including the Toronto International Film Festival. Over the past 12 years, we've expanded to a full-service agency with a team of 30 professionals representing national and international brands including Mulberry, David's Tea, Rudsak, Kiehl's Since 1851, Essie Cosmetics, SKYY Vodka and Jones New York.

What's the best part of your job?

The best part of working in PR is the opportunity to be creative. Every client and case is unique and we get to think strategically, be innovative, create incredible experiences and ultimately tell stories that are meaningful.

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What's the worst part of your job?

I love mentoring young professionals, it's one of the best parts of what I do, but it also comes with challenges. I always hope to act as a positive role model but everyone is different and you don't ever want to disappoint people or burst their bubble. It's a fine line between teaching and mentoring, while being honest and realistic.

What are your strengths in this role?

I think my biggest strength is the ability to problem solve. In PR, we work backwards to identify a challenge and then come up with solutions that meet the client's objectives. I am also entrepreneurial. In an agency environment you need to constantly evolve to not only stay relevant but ahead of the trend.

Other strengths include good instincts, attention to detail and the ability to work with and lead a team.

What are your weaknesses?

I tend to hold people to the same standard as I hold myself. Everyone works in different ways and the goal is to understand and cultivate that while still ensuring we create programs that are successful.

What has been your best career move?

Being brave enough to start NKPR and continuing to take the risks that have helped grow and sustain the business. You can't let fear of failure debilitate you.

What has been your worst career move?

There is no individual case I would identify as my worst career move. I look at any mistakes as key learnings. If it teaches you something and it makes you better then it really wasn't a mistake. I believe in following my gut and I think I've done that throughout my career.

What's your next big job goal?

We're launching an artist management division called NK Artists. We'll be opening up our third office in L.A. There's so much talent in many areas of interest from fashion bloggers, designers, photographers, athletes, actors and musicians who need help building their brand. We want to identify key talent that resonate with us and create strategic alignments and endorsements that are authentic and drive their brand forward.

What's your best advice to others who might want to follow in your footsteps?

Be brave and take risks. Always have a good attitude. And when you have the incredible opportunity to do what you love, be grateful and pay it forward.

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