Valasys Media had the golden opportunity recently to speak with Maxim Behar, the globally acclaimed PR professional, entrepreneur, diplomat, and media expert.
Maxim Behar is a global phenomenon, a PR & marketing revolutionary, and a sought-after speaker about running PR campaigns for his clients. He has authored the book titled “The Global PR Revolution: How to Reach the World Anywhere It Is Needed Most.” The book was recently featured in the list of the best Public Relations books of all time by BookAuthority and explains how PR can revolutionize everything around us. The Global PR Revolution is about taking communications to the next level. Packed with eye-opening stories and practical tips, this revolutionary book will teach you how to transform the way you communicate with others, and change your life forever. This book is going rocking the world of PR and Communications.
Among other accolades, he has been named by Fast Company magazine as one of the "100 Most Creative People in Business" and honored as one of Florida Today's most influential people in Central Florida. With more than 20 years of experience as a newspaper reporter, and the remainder of his career spent writing for book publishers within IUN Communications Group, he has worked for several publications including American Banker, Barron's, BusinessWeek Magazine, and others. Today he writes for publisher Hay House and continues to consult on media needs for companies around the world. His articles have appeared in publications like Reuters, PR Week, and Marketing Age.
Maxim Behar is the Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Seychelles to Bulgaria and besides public relations specializes in concepts such as marketing, public affairs, eMarketing, and social media.
From the year 2015 to 2017 Maxim served as the President of the International Communication Consultancy Organization (ICCO), the largest and the most influential Public Relations and Public Affairs global community. Now as Immediate Past President he is a member of the Executive Committee and Chair for International Growth.
In the year 1994 Maxim founded M3 Communication Group Inc. and is the Chairman and CEO of the organization. The organization is a leader among the major PR market players in Bulgaria.
M3 Communications Group, Inc. (www.m3bg.com) has numerous international and local awards such as the Eastern Europe Consultancy of the year award by Holmes Report, Best PR Agency in Europe by Stevie Awards, and Agency of the Year by the Bulgarian PR Association. In the year 2018, the company won 9 awards at the BAPRA Bright Awards PR contest, including The Agency of the Year.
Behar travels across the globe as a presenter and lecturer addressing hundreds of international summits, forums, conferences, and universities about intricate PR skills, social media, and modern management.
Maxim has served tenure twice as Chairman of the Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum on term Chairman of the Board of the Bulgarian Association of PR Agencies (BAPRA), now a Board member in both communities. He is now the Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Seychelles to Bulgaria.
Indian Association of Business Communications awarded Mr. Behar as “Communicator of the Decade” and also an independent online poll of the Bulgarian TV channel Btv and Manager Magazine announced him as the “Manager of the Year” in Bulgaria.
Maxim has been a PR revolutionist, an acclaimed journalist for over three decades and was kind enough to speak with Valasys Media about his PR insights in general, about his globally-acclaimed book, how PR has revolutionized the B2B space, about his unique PR approach for B2B space, in terms of strategy and his unique approach.
Let’s delve into the questions we asked Maxim and understand what he has to say about the modern PR space and how it’s revolutionizing the entire world, the B2B dominion in particular:
Hello, my name is Maxim Behar and I am the Chairman & CEO of the board of MP3 Communications Group, Inc. I have been associated with the public relations business almost for the past 28 years. I have been the President of the International Communications Consultancy Organization (ICCO) and now am currently in the Executive Committee of ICCO, in the Chair for International Growth. Besides, these days, I am also the President of the World Communication Forum Association (WCFA) in Davos, Switzerland, and a board member of the World PR Museum and also have many other assignments in hand. I think that my experience is covering the entire world and it was the subject of my recent book, the Global PR Revolution, published by all the press in the United States and distributed by Simon & Schuster, and available in all bookstores in Barnes and Noble in the US.
So, it makes me a really strong personality with the coverage of many countries, friends all over the world. And this was possible after all those years in business, after all those happy years, I would say in my business. But starting back in 1994 and even more, because I was a journalist for many years. Back in my early years from my position of managing director of Standard Daily, in fact, in 1992 and during the years of communism, I was a journalist. And then when communism collapsed in the early 1990s, I was a reporter or correspondent in Warsaw, Poland.
I amassed an amazing experience from all the Polish events that were very symbolic for following communism and the centralized economy. And then when I came back, I started Standard Daily as one of the first, if not the first private newspapers in Bulgaria, in my native country Bulgaria where I live.
Then, one day I decided to change my position, my occupation just for one simple reason.
Remember what Winston Churchill said a long time ago that you can achieve a lot of things with journalism, but you must know when to quit.
So that's how I decided to quit journalism and start my own company.
I was a great risk. I mean, at the age of 40, I started a new business. I started in a small kitchen because I really started from scratch and didn't have any money. Of course, the small kitchen space that I had was a rented one from a friend of mine who resided at a place very close to the place I was living.
And my desk was located in between the Watertop and refrigerator, where I used to meet my clients. Public relations, at that time, was an unknown concept in Bulgaria as for all the businesses in that region, not only in Bulgaria. So, I started off with a so-called advertising agency at the very beginning and then turned step by step. I also started producing some small ads or souvenirs or business cards or brochures, printing calendars, small business souvenirs, or presents. And it took a couple of months. And then one day, a friend of mine called me at the Sheraton Hotel. He told me, Max we have an American company coming to Bulgaria and they need a PR agency.
At first, I even didn't understand this call and said, what does it mean PR agency? He said, no, let's meet then. So that's how I met James Shields from America Petroleum, the huge American company in the old business. And they were investors in Bulgaria at that time building gas stations. So that was my first touch with public relations.
This incident happened back in 1995 and since then I am developing the business every single day, happy, motivated, and ambitious. And you should know that public relations are the most or the fastest-changing business in the world these days.
My book the Global PR Revolution entails how public relations is really such a dynamic business. And I term this "Revolution," not even a chance and that's what the title of the book is The Global PR Revolution. You would ask: Why revolution? Because everything in the media space changed over the years.
Do you know who were the journalists during the earlier times? The journalists were people working in media, newspapers or TV channels, or radio stations. They had their education and their press cards or media cards. They were writing stories, covering events on the TV, talking on the radio, and hence they were called journalists. Today, my friends, journalists comprise the 4 billion people in the world using social media. You're journalists and so am I. All of these participants in social media are journalists.
So, the total landscape of our job, public relations has changed tremendously.
Earlier, we the public relations experts who were breached our clients and media. The clients who were coming to our offices knocking on the door and saying, Mr. Behar, we would like to do a public relations campaign. And we want you to help us reach the media, faster and better. And at that time, everything was simpler because the instruments were completely known and completely easy. We had a press release, we had press conferences and then we had media breakfast and product presentations and we were making visits to factories.
And we had about ten to twelve tools, very easy tools that we were operating with and helping our clients. But we were really a bridge between our clients and media.
We were hoping that the media will be covering the projects of our clients and we will be telling the right stories. We didn't have media. These days we are not a bridge. Our clients come and tell us we have media, and so do you guys have. Let's make a good campaign.
From that perspective, we change our business from consultancy because we were consultants. This fact was completely clear to the decision-makers. These days, we are already decision-makers. Our clients cannot take an overview of each of their campaigns, of each of their postings, or each of their involvement in social media before. Of course, once we were publishing press releases, they were the ones to approve those press releases. They were the ones to say a yes or a no. They were the ones to give us the quotes.
Today, it's not possible. The scenario is entirely different and we make decisions on behalf of our clients.
So, this is the first and big revolutionary change that has occurred in our business – the fact that everyone owns media and operates with it and we have a huge competition that we must deal with eventually overcome.
From that perspective, we changed the business from consultancy because we were consultants. That was completely clear to decision-makers.
These days we’re already decision-makers. Our clients cannot take an overview of each of their campaigns, of each of their postings, or each of their involvement in social media. Of course, once we had come up with the publishing press releases, they were the ones to approve these press releases.
They were the ones to say yes or no. They were the ones to give us quotes.
Today that's not possible.
We make decisions on behalf of our clients. So this is the first and big change, the revolutionary one in our business.
The fact that everyone owns media and operates with media and that we have a huge competition that we must deal with and eventually overcome. The second big change is the merger.
The merger between the three main and the most important businesses in the public communications business. And this is the advertising, public relations, and digital. It's really a merger.
And social media brought this merger, not anything else. And now that there is a big fight between three businesses. Which one will be the leading?
Of course, advertising, says we will be the leaders because we have media budgets, we communicate with media on a financial basis. The media will follow our advice.
The digital says, of course, that we will be the leaders of the future business because we can't imagine a public relations or communications campaign without social media, without tax, without applications, or whatever.
But I think, and I'm absolutely sure as I say now way, guys, public relations business will be the leading factor of the new business. And the reason is very simple, everything is about the content, everything is about storytelling and we are the “Masters of the Content.” We are the ones to tell stories, we are the ones to talk to clients of our clients. We were the ones to spread the messages of our clients. So, this is really crucially important. And I think that this Merge is bringing a completely new landscape to the world.
Having said this, in my book, the Global PR Revolution, I gathered the opinion of 100 top decision-makers from 65 countries from all continents, all over the world. And I think the big advantage of this book is that readers can see the opinion of 100 top leaders from all over the world, especially from the United States and the United Kingdom, from Africa, America, Asia, Australia, everywhere, and to see and feel their opinions.
So basically, this is the global PR revolution, the most important change, using social media and having media in our hands.
PR has been a completely new business for the past 10 years and this is completely new business for the past 10 years. This is a completely new business and requires our teams to have completely different abilities in terms of how to write and how to employ different social media platforms.
One must always be aware that also the different languages always speak English. English is spoken all across the globe and therefore, we must know how to employ the different approaches to speak in the same tone across all the social media platforms.
We write on Facebook in a certain way; however, we write emails in an entirely different way. Similarly, the language that we use to write on Twitter is entirely different. On LinkedIn, we write more seriously while on Instagram we emphasize more on visuals. On TikTok, we rely more on shorter videos. So this is a different language and by the way, this is one of the most important changes.
Additionally, in my business, I'm using a couple of flows and different unique concepts.
One of them which is very important for my business in the office is the law of the 3's. These 3's were formulated by me about 10 years ago, but still hold their ground actual and are becoming more and more popular. And these 3's are speed, simplicity, and self-confidence.
These are the most crucial low in modern public communications.
Speed of taking decisions, speed of answering emails, speed of providing concept, speed of realizing changes, speed of communicating with clients, speed of reacting in the crisis management, all are very important.
With crisis management, I remember the scenario we had several years ago.
A few years ago, we had 8 to 10 hours to solve a crisis if a daily newspaper to be published early in the morning was going to publish a negative story about our clients.
So, we had about 10 hours, 12 hours to reject this or to accept this, to approve this or to apologize or to say it’s not true because the newspaper was being published the next day. So, the crux is that we had 10 hours.
Today, we don’t have ten minutes, we have 10 seconds because everything spreads sporadically on social media. So the speed of resolving a crisis is within seconds. Even the speed of I'm disappointed is considerably low in seconds. It is so because the client, the partner, or the media, everyone should know your opinion immediately.
The second is simplicity. This is absolutely crucial because simplicity means to have priorities of your daily life, simplification of your daily tasks.
Simplicity means to also get the best news you want to get from the Internet and to allow what to read and what not to read.
Also, simplicity means the most important part of our business is to tell the audience something that will understand simply and very straight. The last one of three P’s is self-confidence. I don't know a single person who has made any success without very strong self-confidence.
That success will come with hard work and big creativity. So, I think this is one of the most important changes in the realm of public relations and one of my most important messages and rules in life that I created and put into my previous books, 111 Rules, how to make it.
It's that we must make quick decisions and they must be proven by our experience. So, a worthy decision is better matched, than a no-decision.
You know, we as a company have changed a lot since inception. As I said, I started from nothing. I started from a desk and a second-hand computer in the old kitchen. And since then every single day I'm trying to improve the vision and the management and performance of M3 Communications Group. First of all, we are part of Hill+Knowlton Strategies. This is amongst the largest public relations corporations in the world and it gives us a lot of energy and it gives us a lot of experience and abilities to promote our business and then to improve our business to a much better level.
One of the most important changes which I want to share with you that happened recently, especially after the pandemic and after the COVID-19 situation which I turn into a rule and low in my office, is that we entirely changed our management style. Earlier there used to be a seal and general manager, then director, then directors of several departments, and then deputy directors of different departments.
A lot of management staff and administration which I think is absolutely not necessary these days. So, in my latest book, The Morning After, on sale on Amazon as well, in English, I have shared the concepts of horizontal management. So, this philosophy is based on the fact that the fewer managers you have, the better it gets for your organization.
Of course, you should have managers. However, the only difference even in the office between me, myself as the CEO and chairman of the board, and the assistant is that there is no title. The only difference is not the age and not even the salary or how many years you have been in office or whatever. The only difference should be the experience.
The more experienced is the manager, the more experienced is the person, the more responsibilities in the management he or she should have. So from that perspective of course a lot many things will change.
Let’s talk about social media, the social media department, which, in fact, these days, is the largest department in the office. Three years ago, it was not possible. Today, everyone understood social media, everyone emphasized social media importance and everyone is ready for that very, very soon.
100 to 120 years ago when our business was established, maybe 5% of the relations of the companies and it was launched in the United States, of course in the UK later on. But 5% of the businesses of the company were public and 95% of the business was non-public.
So with the appearance of the newspapers later on the TV channels, of course, the business owners and the politicians realize that they should have some part of their relations to be public. So they hired journalists, mainly journalists or some other people lawyers to work with them and to manage their public relations.
So, that’s how public relations term or business was launched as public relations today is nonsense.
Today, my dear friends, everything is public. So saying public relations, that’s very close to the wet water or transparent window. And this is public relations. So one day most probably this business will be changed to social relations or social communications. I think even the terminology called "Public Relations" will be changed to the term "real-time" relations. So, these days what is public relations? Let me share with you my definition of publishing relations, telling the truth in a way people understand it.
Public relations is crucial for B2B PR because my experience shows that usually, businesses don't know how to communicate with other businesses, usually their partners and clients.
There are two main channels through which the businesses usually communicate with other businesses, usually their partners and clients.
So having public relations advisor, having people who would formulate their messages in a very precise and understandable manner, in other words having PR advisors like us who will advise them in how to approach different categories becomes very crucial.
And I’m sure that the B2B businesses that underestimate public relations will be on the losing side.
My advice to B2B marketers is very simple. Hire professional PR service providers or professional business providers so that you can get professional business to advise all the time. This is extremely important and the public relations experts know how to do this all the time.
B2B businesses, these days, are more social media-oriented.
There exist meetings for dinners, lunches, breakfast, conference rooms, hotels, or even online Zoom.
And this is a social media business because business people, get their news, they get their information, they understand the brands, and they form their opinions. Where, from social media, of course. So public relations experts are crucial in this business.
A brand is comprised 80% of its business communications, 20% is the quality of its product. Of course, the advantages of the product, the way products work is important, but branding and good communications are pretty crucial go online and look at your advertising on Facebook or Instagram or whatever you want, just take a look and you will see that you get much more attention to the brand you know then to anyone else.
So building a brand is the base of reputation management and then, of course, you should add the design, the way the product work, and the pricing condition according to the market.
Social media is undoubtedly my favorite tool to accelerate PR endeavors. Social media channels are excellent tools and channels to boost your PR efforts. And then we also have a private college on PR and marketing called the M3 Communications College (https://www.m3college.com/).
Social media is an excellent tool to send messages and teach people how to do good PR.
Of course, there are a lot of software tools to get exactly your branding to see how successful you are or you’re not. But I think that these campaigns usually really need maybe six months to one year to judge whether they’re successful or not.
So, there has to be a lot of patience from the side of clients and a lot of creativity and sustainability from the side of the PR companies. If you have a product, you must immediately start doing the public relations campaign with all possible tools and channels.
And you must very importantly every single week estimate and judge the results and upgrade your campaigns if there’s a need.
This is PR. It’s the most important business these days in the world.
You know what Bill Gates said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.”
Yes, you read it right, he would give that penny for PR and not on advertising.
All of us know the big difference between PR and advertising. That being that advertising buys media whereas PR earns media. However, in order to earn media, you should be very experienced and creative. But these days by the grace of God we have the public relations experts and have access to an amazing tool called social media in our hands. Therefore, all of us have to have unlimited creativity to leverage social media as a tool to grow our businesses in ways that will help our B2B endeavors personal or political interests or just business-client relationships to aid our businesses to flourish.
A public relations expert who isn’t well-educated in several business pursuits cannot in practice carve effective news or story for his or her clients.
We have to be far better prepared than our clients. We have to be much more intelligent and in my opinion much more progressive and innovative than our clients.
And of course, this is how we can help their businesses successfully.
So everything concerning our clients these days is in the hands of public relations.
The insights and takeaways from this interview will increase one's fascination with PR and one will certainly derive a lot of inspiration from the life of Maxim Behar both as a professional and as a person. He has been the brain behind some of the most successful PR brands across the globe. His thoughts are highly respected by the global PR community, and he is a prolific speaker and public figure. Professional PR services can help you drive more business and can help you reap maximum benefits from your PR endeavors.
While a lot has been said about the public relations field, you would have never heard from the man behind it all, until now. We were fortunate to have Maxim Behar with us and speak to him as he spoke about his passion for PR and how he is making a difference to the world with his engaging activities, contributions to the PR world, and innovative ideas. In an exclusive interview with Valasys Media, Maxim revealed his secret to success: individuality. The individuality transcends both to his personal and professional life. Indeed, Maxim Behar is one of the biggest names in the PR space, and interviewing him was a pleasure. As we eagerly got talking about PR and how it revolutionized the B2B space, we realized that this was not just an interview. In fact, it was a conversation that could expand into hours of interaction. We're sure that it will be as an enthralling and insightful read for you as it was for us.
After reading this interview most of you will feel a deep connection with Maxim and his ideas. We are truly honored to bring you his insights on PR & how it is transforming the B2B space.