You don’t have to spend very long in the company of M3 Communications Group founder and chief executive Maxim Behar before it dawns on you that he might be the best-connected man in Bulgaria. Journalists, business executives, fellow public relations professionals, hoteliers and maitre d’s throughout Sofia greet him affectionately by name. When he claims that he is personally involved with every client of his firm—currently there are about 60 of them—you don’t doubt it, because there is no limit to his energy and enthusiasm.
Behar launched M3 in 1994, having previously served as managing editor of one of the country’s leading daily newspapers, Standart. It quickly established itself as the market leader in the fledgling PR industry, while Behar played a major role in the professionalization of PR in the Bulgarian market, founding the Bulgarian Association of Advertising Agencies & Professionals in 1996 and serving as chairman of the board of the Bulgarian Association of PR Agencies. He is also deputy chairman of the board of the Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum, and also serves as Honorary Consul of the Republic of Seychelles to Bulgaria.
His firm, which has been the Bulgarian partner of Hill & Knowlton since 2000, now operates eight distinct companies specializing in public relations, digital and social media, branding, events, graphic design, media monitoring and education (the latter though M3 College, a fully-licensed private college focused on PR and marketing). The PR team numbers about 60, and has experience in media relations, crisis management and public affairs.
The recession appears to have had minimal impact on M3’s business, with continued growth over the past 12 months. It continues to work for a mix of Bulgarian leaders and multinational clients, including Danone, Michelin, Postbank, Alpha Bank, Lockheed Martin, IBM, Intracom and Tishman International, all attracted by a philosophy that emphasizes speed, simplicity and self-confidence. The firm was recognized with two Stevie Awards in 2010, for Best PR Agency in Europe and Most Innovative Agency in Europe, and picked up three trophies for its work in the Bulgarian industry’s Bright Awards contest.