I’m Natasha Koifman. My journey as an entrepreneur began in 2002 when I started NKPR so that I could combine my two passions: sharing stories that matter and supporting causes that are making a difference around the world. I started as a one-person shop out of my basement doing unit publicity for film production companies. Fast forward 17 years and we’ve expanded to a full-service public relations, artist management and digital agency with a team of professionals representing over 40 diverse national and international brands including Swarovski, SOREL, Nature’s Bounty, Mountain Equipment Co-Op (MEC), Ellie Mae, Lightspeed, Bloor-Yorkville BIA, Lifetime Developments, Lanterra and CentreCourt.
Unfortunately in early March, the effects of COVID-19 began impacting society dramatically and required us all to pivot and rethink business strategies. As a business owner of a PR agency I immediately thought…How do we continue to instil confidence in our team and lead by example? How do we as an agency take our knowledge and tools to support our clients, partners, community and the people we care about throughout each phase of this pandemic?
Confidence and teamwork are so important during a time like this. As leaders, we need to be right there with our teams doing whatever is necessary to ensure the success of the business as a whole. Our team has been working from home for months now and we are currently planning for a safe return to the office that ensures our workplace is safe for everyone. From the beginning we’ve prioritized ensuring that everyone on the team feels connected in the same way they would when in a physical office and this will help us make a smooth transition back to the office. One of my favourite routines, which we started mid-March and have continued through to this day to support this connectedness, is starting off our morning with a full team Zoom meeting; each day a different team member leads the call and we collectively go through account brainstorms, discuss industry news, and do interactive group activities. We have also been getting some in-person time together more recently which has been great as we slowly rotate team members in-and-out of the office and support digital and physically distanced client events.
This internal tradition has now become instrumental in our external work–how we’re counselling our clients as we’ve entered each phase of reopening–I always do say
30+ brains are better than one!
All businesses, big and small, have had to make changes to adapt to the current climate. While creativity has always been ingrained in who we are as an agency, this has been an exceptionally important time for us to really stretch our thinking and explore new and innovative ways to support our clients. Being a valuable partner at the table – a true extension of their team – is part of our brand ethos and in these times this has been even more than an imminent priority; listening to our clients and pivoting as we go through the phases of reopening. For example, we’re giving counsel on executing more intimate events while integrating a digital component like we did with our seasonal agency preview and SOREL’s fall/winter collection preview, encouraging shopping in districts like Bloor-Yorkville, and creating philanthropic programs to support our current global environment – We came together as a team to help drive and create a campaign called See You Soon Toronto; A collaboration between Lifetime Developments’ Brian Brown, graphic artist Ben Johnston and television reporter Tyrone Edwards, where 100% of proceeds from a limited edition apparel and art collection go back to COVID-19 relief efforts.
It has been meaningful for us to be able to support our clients with the impactful initiatives they’ve taken on from Ellie Mae producing face masks where $5 of proceeds from every item sold goes back to Feed The Frontlines TO and Black Health Alliance, to Mandy Rennehan offering four sanitary, accessible, fully-stocked and lit rest stops in Oakville for truck drivers working during #Covid19 to Flow donating $1 million worth of Flow water to frontline health care workers.
During these unprecedented times it is important to remember that we are all truly in this together so how can we come together to support one another in business and in life. Personally, I’ve gained a renewed appreciation for a more simplified life and learned that as we adapt to a changing world, we’re presented with so many opportunities for personal and professional growth – we must continue to think outside of the box to ignite our creative flame.