Maxim Behar: A Man Who Crafted A New Era for Public Relations GloballyFebruary, 2024
Before the advent of structured PR practices, communication was often fragmented and reactive, leaving entities vulnerable to the whims of public opinion. With the evolution of PR, there has been a fundamental shift in how organizations engage with their audiences.
PR has become a strategic function, enabling proactive communication, reputation management, and the cultivation of positive relationships with various stakeholders. PR has empowered entities to not only convey their messages effectively but also to build trust, foster goodwill, and adapt to the dynamic nature of public perception.
The discipline has evolved from being merely a tool for disseminating information to a multifaceted, integral aspect of overall organizational strategy, influencing perceptions, and contributing to long-term success.
And part of this enormous change globally undoubtedly was Maxim Behar, Bulgarian born entrepreneur who often characterize himself as “citizen of the world” and spends his time mostly in the airplanes, hotels and conference rooms speaking at Summits and Forums. Having couples of university educations, writing numerous of interesting business books, some of them bestsellers in the USA, accumulating huge experience in strategic consulting an crisis management, managing many international communications organization, Behar with no doubt now is one of the global leaders in Public Relations business. Even recently made his debut in the US hip-hop and rap scene with a smashing hit called “PR We Are” which seems to be the first very song written and reached global charts about this so creative business.
“It was just a fun, which unexpectedly turned to be a great success on the global rap music charts”, Behar says.
With a wealth of experience, strategic acumen, and a keen understanding of the ever-evolving media landscape, Maxim Behar has consistently demonstrated his prowess as one of the most professional figures in the PR industry, leaving an indelible mark on the clients and projects he engages with.
You might be surprised, but Maxim Behar embarked on his professional journey as a machinery worker in a small factory, later advancing to international business in Prague during his father's diplomatic mission. In 1994, he laid the foundation for M3 Communications Group, Inc. in a small kitchen, transforming it into a machine for innovative projects and leadership in the Public Relations industry globally. And… also to reach the honor in 2017 to be officially inducted into the PR Hall of Fame in London as the first Eastern European ever in the history!
Having successfully completed the Harvard Kennedy School executive program on Leadership in 2019, Mr. Behar has steered the company to numerous awards and significant milestones. Each accomplishment served as a stepping stone, propelling the organization to new heights. M3 Communications Group, Inc. has emerged as a standard-bearer for precision in Public Relations, synonymous with innovation and creativity.
The Holmes Report recognized the company as the best consultancy in Eastern Europe, while PRWeek nominated it among the Best PR companies in Europe in 2021. Both in 2020 and 2022, Mr. Behar himself was honored as the Best PR Professional in Europe by PRWeek. These accolades serve as testament to the continuous pursuit of excellence, with each recognition marking a successful waypoint on the ever-evolving journey to the summit, which is redefined and elevated year after year.
What is more: Maxim run the World PR Organization ICCO as President since 2017 and now has the same responsible position at the world Communications Forum Association, based in Davos, Switzerland. He is also a lifetime Fellow at the UK PR Association, PRCA, the largest of tis and in the world and also an Advisory Board member of the largest pan-European business University – engage.eu.
Pioneering PR Excellence for 30 Years
In 1994, Mr. Behar made a strategic departure from journalism, resigning from his role as the Managing Editor of Bulgaria's largest daily newspaper, "Standard." Inspired by Winston Churchill's “You can achieve a lot of things with journalism, but you must know when to quit”, he embarked on a new venture—a one-man-show advertising company. However, it didn't take long for him to recognize that his extensive knowledge and experience held greater potential in the then-unknown realm of Public Relations within the country.
Over the course of more than 29 years, M3 Communications Group has evolved into a prominent leader not only in Bulgaria but across the Eastern European region. In the year 2000, a transformative partnership with Hill & Knowlton catalyzed additional momentum, contributing significantly to the company's remarkable success.
Three key pillars define M3 Communications Group's standing in the industry: an unwavering commitment to 24/7 client care, a dedication to transparency and integrity, and a consistently high level of professionalism. What sets the company apart is its adaptability, as it diligently refines and nurtures these characteristics every single day, aligning them with the ever-evolving landscape of the business environment.
The company's unparalleled strength lies in its commitment to constant innovation—a driving force that propels M3 Communications Group to the forefront of its industry, ensuring its continued relevance and distinction.
Three-Role Symphony in Leadership
Mr. Behar asserts that recent transformations in leadership are notably intertwined starting with the shifts in communication methodologies. Citing the profound impact of social media on global dynamics, he identifies two fundamental pillars underlying this metamorphosis: communications and knowledge. According to Mr. Behar, the evolving landscape necessitates a paradigm shift in leadership styles, wherein leaders are tasked not only with assigning responsibilities to their teams but also with fostering a cadre of "mini-leaders" within their respective spheres of influence. He firmly advocates for the cultivation of a "horizontal" management approach, contending that such an orientation is imperative for effective leadership in the modern world.
Moreover, Mr. Behar emphasizes the vital role of leaders in continually nurturing new leaders, viewing this as an essential aspect of modern leadership. He underscores the importance of understanding the difference between a manager and a leader, urging all stakeholders in business, regardless of scale, to grasp this differentiation. For Maxim, a manager's role revolves around handling present-day affairs, while a leader is defined by their ability to guide and propel their team towards future objectives. In his nuanced perspective, leadership is not merely about overseeing tasks today but about steering the course toward tomorrow's aspirations.
Mr. Behar adeptly integrates his three main roles of founder, leader, and manager, seamlessly navigating their distinct responsibilities. Despite the ongoing effort to delineate these roles in various projects and circumstances, he recognizes that during difficult and most important – unpredictable times each leader must understand his or her responsibilities.
Mr. Behar says, “In my daily work I do rely on the Board of Management members and each of them has specific tasks to control or support. But very often we have 5 or 10 minute Zoom meetings and coordinate important decisions or client’s projects. In fact, this is one of the great advantages in modern management via online platforms. In “previous life” to get the Board for a meeting it may take at least one day for preparation and adjusting the timing between members. Now, and undoubtedly this will be the future, it takes minutes to see each other online as we all are available in front of our laptops anyway.”
Foreshadowing on the Future of PR industry
Mr. Behar reflects on the profound and unexpected transformations ushered in by the pandemic stating:
“Pandemic unexpectedly brought us thousands of changes, which we could never predict. One of them is home office work and not having personal contacts with the clients, and even between the team, partners and vendors could be the main. But the whole environment changed of course all businesses, but I still think Public relations is among those with deep and very significant changes. My point of view is that all those facts brought a forever lasting change in the style of management and leadership. Working from home, from a hotel lobby, park or coffee shop has enormous advantages, but requires a completely different way of management and also a brand new style of creating brand new teams. In fact, creating teams online will be quite a good challenge for any business in the forthcoming years, but especially in public communications it will be a must to happen as soon as possible."
Turning Challenges into Triumphs
Mr. Behar, the visionary leader at the helm of the company, reflects on a pivotal period marked by what some might call adversity. He asserts that, contrary to popular belief, the challenges faced during Pandemic were not defined by tough decisions but rather approached with a logic and business acumen that transformed the company's trajectory.
In the initial months of navigating uncertainty, Mr. Behar prioritized a strategic shift in the company's operational dynamics. The paramount objective was to safeguard client relationships and preserve the workforce, steering away from any abrupt terminations.
“Through unwavering dedication and concerted efforts, We managed to “turn the wheel” of the company and business so we convinced all clients that now they need us more than ever,” says Mr. Behar.
The core message conveyed was twofold: firstly, emphasizing the need for professional and effective communication within internal teams and employees, and secondly, fostering robust connections with customers, vendors, and stakeholders. This strategic communication initiative resonated profoundly, resulting in not a single client parting ways with the company.
On the contrary – with clever marketing and new services they manage to get more new clients, some of them big international corporations.
“Never consider crisis management of the company as time for tough decisions, but as time to learn and to overcome new challenges,” says Mr. Behar.
Mr. Behar's narrative challenges the conventional notion of crisis management as a period necessitating tough decisions. Instead, he perceives it as an invaluable opportunity for organizational learning and growth, a time to triumph over new challenges and emerge stronger than ever.
From Golden Rules to Brave Moves
Mr. Behar expresses a candid viewpoint, acknowledging that amidst the current business landscape, a singular formula prevails: a heightened and strong involvement in decision-making processes. Despite his personal affinity for the horizontal style of management, where leaders play a minimal role in ongoing work and communications decision-making, he concedes that the present circumstances demand a departure from this approach.
In recognizing the urgent need for transformation within companies, Mr. Behar observes the prevalent confusion and insecurity among teams. He notes that clients may be apprehensive about adhering to the conventional crisis response of cutting marketing and public relations expenses, colloquially referred to as the "golden rule."
Mr. Behar reflected on his past presentation at the World Communications Forum in Davos by saying:
“Some years ago one of my presentations at the World Communications Forum in Davos was entitled “PR men never give up”. If I could make the same presentation now I would name it :"PR business now is only for brave people who can make fast decisions.” And I really do believe in the upcoming years more managers and more leaders will understand this and will develop the relevant abilities to be brave.”
Mr. Behars’s transformative journey from a machinery worker to the forefront of the PR industry stands as a testament to his resilience, foresight, and dedication. Maxim’s ability to not only weather challenges but to turn them into triumphs showcases his exceptional skill in crisis management. As the driving force behind M3 Communications Group, Inc., he has not only shaped the company into an industry leader but has also left an indelible mark on the broader field of public relations.
Maxim’s strategic thinking, adaptability, and emphasis on fostering relationships underscore his greatness in the PR industry, making him a true trailblazer and a source of inspiration for professionals in the field. Not only in his country or in his region, but also globally, where he has millions of followers, fans and students. And all they share his favorite guiding rule: “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough”…
An article of Time Iconic Magazine , Jan 2024
You can find the full article here