Our founder Nigel Smith! Nigel spent more than 20 years working in healthcare public relations at several leading global firms before founding Next Step Communications in 2014. Read on for his proudest achievements at NSC, his favorite memory since starting the company, and what he is up to outside of work!
What is your background?
Before starting NSC back in 2014, I worked at several large independent global PR firms where I was always involved in the health sector. Prior to my PR career, I worked in news where I learned the importance of storytelling and how viewers and readers absorb health information which could impact the quality of their lives.
What work at NSC are you most proud of?
Our business requires both satisfied clients and superb team members. Being part of the account work process and watching the team grow to become superb PR practitioners is incredibly rewarding. In addition to the work, I’m able to work with my better half Cassie who plays an important role in craft excellence, championing, and encouraging the team to be their best.
If you could do only one aspect of PR work what would it be?
Easy question: the trust and privilege we are given to speak to our clients’ patients is incredibly powerful and moving. I’m always touched by individuals who are willing to speak to a perfect stranger like me and share incredibly personal health problems as well as how they are doing today after clinical intervention. Last week we spoke with women struggling with their fertility challenges, people living with chronic pain and parents with a child living with a rare, progressive eye condition.
What is your favorite memory of NSC?
I assume all entrepreneurs are terrified to start a business and taking that leap of faith is very uncomfortable. However, quickly realizing that companies were interested in my expertise was the ultimate validation I had never experienced in my previous career. From there, the business found its footing and we continue to thrive eight-plus years into the journey.
What are you up to outside of NSC?
I have two kids: a nine and a seven-year-old. It feels like I’m just along for the ride with them with lacrosse, karate, school plays, and their social calendars.
Any advice for those entering or interested in PR?
For several years I was formally part of the UMass Comm Department Alumni Board. When speaking with students I always expressed finding an industry or subject that you are interested in – then finding a company that touches on the topic. If you are interested in medtech or pharma, HCIT health agencies are a great way to learn and experience different types of companies. However, if health isn’t of interest, stay away from working at a firm that specializes in the topic.
Must-have item always on you?
I have to be honest I’m not sure there is a ‘must-have’ item on me, however, non-fancy coffee is a must!
Go-to pizza place?
Any place that doesn’t go skimpy on the toppings. There is a time and place for every kind of pizza from fancy thin crust to chain and all the ‘house of pizza’ in-between. However, sausage and mushroom might reign supreme.
Favorite place you’ve traveled?
As I get older it’s not necessarily the place, but the quality of the experience. We just did our first family ski trip to Montana and that was pretty special. However, living in London and San Francisco has spoiled my ability to travel.