Leah Nurik, founder and CEO of Gabriel Marketing Group, has successfully grown the agency and established it as a leading PR and marketing firm for high-growth organizations. GMG’s work has garnered over 90 industry awards, highlighting its excellence.
With over 25 years of experience in PR and marketing expertise, Nurik has earned numerous industry recognitions, including CEO of the Year for Boutique PR Agencies for doing what she loves – connecting changemakers with opportunities to drive impactful change through innovative technology.
Nurik’s journey as an industry leader and as a person has, in part, been shaped by the challenges she faced since founding the company in 2011, including being diagnosed with breast cancer twice. Balancing parenting, schooling, chemotherapy, and ensuring her family’s well-being was a tremendous undertaking. While it was undoubtedly a tough time, Nurik emerged from it with valuable lessons.
We caught up with Nurik to get her thoughts on the future of the communications industry.
What book, podcast or other media do you recommend to other comms pros?
Nurik: Every morning, I listen to the NYTimes Daily and NPR’s Up First while I’m driving my kids to school or making breakfast. I also read The New Yorker because it provides context about what interests and intrigues us as a society at the present moment. This insight into the greater trends, emotions and concerns of our society can spark more creative and relevant proactive media pitching, as well as better context to provide our clients with positioning, messaging and strategy for product development and growth. I have three book recommendations for all comms pros, or basically anyone: the AP Style Guide for clear and concise writing, Bittersweet for personal reflection, developing a growth mindset and practicing compassion for ourselves and others in both our work and personal lives; and When Breath Becomes Air for sparking contemplation and value prioritization to help one pursue contentment in both their career and their personal choices.
What’s your favorite tool you use regularly for work?
Slack, as well as our own GMG Dash™ platform that we use for client communications and project management. HubSpot is great for our sales process, too.
What excites you most about the future of communications?
I’ve witnessed a dramatic shift in communications and business over the past 15 years. Today, more and more companies, and specifically our clients, are focusing their efforts on missions that positively impact the world. From software to semiconductors, from professional development to equal access to education technology, companies that are authentically focused on doing good, also do exceptionally well. I think the profession and industry, in general, do better when we are living and communicating the truth and the passion behind it. That excites me and makes going to work every day pretty awesome.
What communications challenge keeps you up at night?
That depends. Bucking and shifting the status quo in an industry is always a challenge. It requires passion and thoughtful articulation of differentiation, demand and need. Every time we aim to do it, we take a unique approach. Right now, I’m sleeping pretty well.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your career?
Since I founded the company, I was diagnosed with breast cancer twice. The second time was during the pandemic when our business was pivoting, and we had to get creative to bring on new clients and retain existing ones. At the same time, I was parenting two girls, doing my best to help with schooling, going through chemotherapy and making sure everyone in my family was fed and as upbeat as possible, while we hunkered down with just the four of us and our amazing dog. It was not a fun time, but, as a company and as a leader, I learned so much about what our ideal client profile needed to be, how our culture should be defined and how to delegate and bring on amazing talent. We established a foundation on which we have enjoyed significant growth and overall team and client satisfaction that we’ve never experienced before. That’s more than a silver lining—it’s grace, love and purpose. And I’m happy to report I’m cancer free more than two years later!
What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Trust your gut – always.
As women, many of us were raised to deny our inner voice and called “oversensitive” or “wrong” when we object to the way we are treated or speak up to authority when something is unfair. It took me 20 years to retrain myself to follow my instincts and not doubt myself when bullies from all intersections of my life tried to play a power game. We are very lucky to be in our current position – we look at our sales process as a bidirectional interview and say no to prospective partners if their personalities and values don’t align.
Listening to my gut has saved me years of stress by avoiding situations where I’m trying to make something work that never will. And I learned that if anyone tells you, you are “stubborn,” “too sensitive,” “shrill,” “bossy,” “angry” or “feisty,” they are playing an undermining power game and you should hang up and RUN as fast as you can to the next, exciting opportunity.
Isis Simpson-Mersha is a conference producer/ reporter for Ragan. Follow her on LinkedIn.
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