After a corporate reorganization that forced a layoff, Steve Friedberg formed MMI Communications over 17 years ago and never looked back. Steve places great value in the quality of relationships with his clients, which is a fundamental key to long-term success in the agency world. Read more about his accomplishments with MMI, his outlook on entrepreneurship, and his life outside of MMI in our interview with him below.
Steve, tell us a bit about MMI Communications.
MMI Communications is a small company that works to deliver big results for emerging firms, primarily in the high-technology field. Key competencies include public relations/analyst relations/content marketing strategy and development, and more.
Our clients have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Times, Fortune, Reuters, the Washington Post, CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg News, and across Philadelphia media (both print and broadcast), as well as in a number of trade publications. We’ve worked in the areas of media relations, analyst relations and investor relations, focusing on delivering senior-level counsel and implementation at a price well within most firms’ reach.
On the personal side, I spent more than 20 years in broadcast news, winning three Emmys for my work. It’s given me, I think, a pretty clear idea of how messages are effectively crafted and delivered, and how the media works. It enables me to work with a full range of stakeholders more effectively on our clients’ behalf.
What gave you the idea for MMI Communications and how did it start?
I became what I referred to as an “involuntary entrepreneur.” I was laid off in a corporate reorganization, and the job market for corporate communications professionals was slim at the time. I networked and found an opportunity to work with a company as a contractor/consultant, and built the business from there. That was more than 17 years ago.
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
The quality of the people I deal with and the relationships I’ve built over time with a wide range of professionals. They may have started out as clients, reporters and analysts, but they’ve evolved into friends.
What are your keys to making yourself productive?
Focus. Messaging is a key to my business, and I always try to synthesize the information I’ve received into a version that will be easily understood the people my clients are trying to reach. My background in TV news has been invaluable in that respect; it’s also helped me maximize my time. I find that I am often able to hunker down and deliver a finished product in a fraction of the time that others take, even while keeping in mind the strategy behind the tactics.
Tell us one long-term goal in your career.
Ironically, I don’t have long-term goals in my career. My career is just one aspect of my life, and it does not define who I am. I’m proud that I’ve made it as an independent counselor for more than 17 years, and built some solid relationships along the way.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through the course of your career?
Winning the contract means absolutely nothing, except now you have to actually produce what you promised you could do.
What advice would you give to others aspiring to succeed in your field?
Technology changes and evolves; buzzwords change by the day; being a good person, one who inspires trust, is the key.
What are your favorite things to do outside of work?
I’m a sleight-of-hand magician (my website is www.stevefriedbergmagic.com); I’ve headlined at Hollywood’s Magic Castle three times and performed around the world. I’m also a husband and grandfather, and I’m proud of all three.
Name a few influential books you’ve read and/or websites you keep up with that you’d recommend to readers.
I’ve always been a news junkie, and continue to be one. I check BBC.com, NBCNews.com several times a day, as well as a wide range of technology sites. It’s important that I stay up to speed on the news for my clients as well as emerging trends. I’ll devour analysts’ reports for insight and information I can share with them.