Natasha Koifman created NKPR in 2002 to combine her two passions: shining a spotlight on stories of substance and supporting causes that are making a difference around the world. Under Natasha’s guidance and leadership, NKPR has established itself as a highly-regarded full-service public relations, artist management and digital agency with offices in Toronto and New York, representing over 40 diverse national and international brands including Mulberry, Free People, and Liberty Group. Launching NK Artists in 2013, NKPR also manages strategic partnerships for high-profile personalities like former Olympian Nastia Liukin, George Stroumboulopoulos and Sophie Elgort. Natasha is a regular voice on Newstalk 1010 as a PR expert and she’s a weekly contributor at the Huffington Post.
How did you get started in PR?
When I first gradated, I moved to New York where I worked as a journalist for several years. This is where I had my first experiences working with publicists. I saw a huge opportunity to work in PR, translating my learnings from being on the receiving end of pitches into developing more strategic outreaches resulting in meaningful coverage and awareness for brands.
What was your first job?
My first job in PR was working as a publicist for Nick Di Donato at the Liberty Entertainment Group, an international hospitality group who has redefined the restaurant, nightlife and special events experiences in Canada and the US. They have such INCREDIBLE restaurants in Toronto and Miami…Cibo South Beach is a must-visit. I guess it’s true when they say it all comes full circle – almost 20 years later, Nick is now one of our clients 🙂
What is the mood like in the office?
The mood is upbeat, but very focused. People are often surprised when they visit either of our offices in Toronto or New York at how quiet it can be with 30+ people working at once – everyone works incredibly hard with such an entrepreneurial spirit to ensure we are consistently delivering meaningful results. We designed our spaces to be open-concept to encourage collaboration, so there is always a buzz from brainstorming and sharing ideas. That said, things can get much louder when an afternoon donut, candy or chocolate delivery happens – we are VERY serious about our desserts!
What are you working on right now?
We represent over 30 national and international clients so we always have lots on the go. I’m particularly excited about the upcoming Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. Founded in 1997, it is the largest photography festival in the world, and it’s always an incredible opportunity to discover new talented artists and see really inspiring exhibits. We’re also working on a 15th anniversary launch for Line Knitwear, the incredible luxury knitwear brand available at Bergdorf’s, Saks and Neiman’s. We are developing the international retail and consumer strategies for the brand that is loved by everyone from Jennifer Garner to Oprah to Drew Barrymore.
What are three must-have tools, apps, or products that are essential to your job?
I couldn’t function without Amanda, my incredible Executive Assistant. She is my other half, and keeps me organized no matter which city I’m in. My iPhone is also an essential – I use it for checking and responding to my 1000+ e-mails a day, monitoring Twitter and Instagram, posting to Periscope and keeping me on schedule. Plus, it’s linked to my FitBit so I can monitor my daily steps! I also love HotelTonight App – with so many clients and events, my schedule can change on a dime and being able to book an incredible hotel in any city last-minute is an essential. Uber is also an essential for me in New York and Toronto – not driving from meeting to meeting allows me to maximize time by working on the ride.
What makes an ideal client for your agency?
An ideal client is one who values our strategic expertise and our understanding of the global marketplace, and lets us sit alongside them as partners at the table.
What is a recent success story you’re proud of?
Last year we launched our talent division, representing artists we feel passionate about to develop meaningful collaborations and partnerships to drive their brands forward, including Dancing With the Stars competitor and Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin, Fashion Photographer Sophie Elgort and Coveteur Co-Founder and Fashion Designer Erin Kleinberg, to name a few. I am so proud of the work that we’re able to do together and of inspired by how passionate each artist is toward their craft.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned since you started working in PR?
I’ve learned the importance of being brave and taking risks. And when you have the incredible opportunity to do what you love, I’ve learned to be grateful and pay it forward.
I’ve learned the importance of being brave and taking risks.
How do you get the word out about your agency?
We started a digital media division before most of our clients even knew what social media was. As an agency, we are very active in the digital space, on platforms including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, our blog, and most recently, Periscope. Media, influencers and current and prospective clients use social media to source relevant information and examples of our work. Much of our business is also driven by word-of-mouth. Many of our clients have partnered with us for over a decade – they may move jobs, but they often move us with them wherever they go.
What excites you about PR these days?
I’m excited about the industry’s evolution. The first question we always ask our clients is “What does success look like?” and from there, we develop a plan to achieve their measures of success. The evolution of the industry has driven us to be more creative and more innovative than ever before to develop programs and campaigns that will push the needle and make a difference in our clients’ business. I remember when I started, media relations was enough to make a huge impact – now we need to develop 360 degree integrated strategies using tactics including media relations, strategic partnerships, influencer relations, social media and direct clienteling to move brands forward and drive sales and awareness.
The evolution of the industry has driven us to be more creative and more innovative than ever before to develop programs and campaigns that will push the needle and make a difference in our clients’ business.
How is PR different in Canada than in the US?
I think the biggest difference is the scale. Canada has a population of 35 million, which is less populated than the entire state of California! As consumers, Canadians and Americans are very similar – we follow the same influencers on Instagram, watch the same TV shows and to some degree, we follow the same trends. But the landscape in the US is so much vaster – for every Canadian fashion magazine, there are 15 in the US. For every Canadian blogger, there are 100 in the US. It’s about determining which publications and influencers resonate most with the target consumer – and we’re finding that more and more, we need to evaluate through a borderless lens.
How do you manage your time between Toronto and New York?
Very strategically! 🙂 I split my time 50/50. Having two offices in two countries requires me to be hyper-organized, planning my schedule often months in advance to ensure I am where I need to be and when. It helps that I have an incredible team of some of the smartest, most hard-working people in the industry, who ensure everything runs smoothly.
What is one thing you wish people knew about NKPR?
We are strategic thinkers and want to ensure that we are always delivering meaningful results. On that note, I want people to know that I founded NKPR on the principle of supporting causes that are making a difference around the world. I truly believe public relations can help forge meaningful relationships between the public and not-for-profit sector, and we always look for opportunities to create connections that are meaningful to a brand and its target consumers in an authentic way.
I truly believe public relations can help forge meaningful relationships between the public and not-for-profit sector, and we always look for opportunities to create connections that are meaningful to a brand and its target consumers in an authentic way.
As an agency, NKPR supports so many causes that are important to us, including Artists for Peace and Justice, for which I sit on the board. The organization was founded by my dear friend and Academy Award-winner Paul Haggis, supporting education in Haiti. I am in awe every single day of the work that Artists for Peace and Justice is able to do – each time I visit the first free high school that APJ built in Port-au-Prince, I am reminded of the power of education, and the difference it can make for those who wouldn’t normally have access to it.