Things are busy here at the Bradford Group. We’ve recently welcomed several new clients and team members, like our newest account executives Leanna Bernhard and Steve Wonsiewicz, to the mix. Get to know a little bit about them in the Q&A below!
Where are you from and what brought you to Nashville?
LB: I was born and raised in Baltimore, but visited Nashville a few times before I moved in November. I came down for CMA Fest in 2014 after graduating from college and fell in love with the city – its Southern charm, live music, variety of activities and beautiful neighborhoods. It was then that I got the idea in the back of my head about moving to Nashville and finally turned that dream into a reality a few years later.
SW: I was born outside Chicago and moved to Memphis when I was in the second grade and lived there until I left for college. I later moved from Amsterdam, Holland, to Nashville in 1994 to be managing editor of a music business trade publication owned by Billboard magazine. I thought it was a temporary assignment and would eventually move to New York City to be part of Billboard. Well, soon after moving to Nashville I met my future wife, we adopted two awesome boys from Romania, and I have been here since. Love this city!
What’s your favorite thing about Nashville?
LB: As an avid country music fan, I love that I hear live music everywhere I turn. I’ve really enjoyed visiting the honky tonks on Lower Broadway and listening to the artists that are still trying to make it. Everyone keeps telling me I’ll grow tired of the tourist crowds, but I haven’t yet!
SW: The people. Folks who move to and remain in Nashville do so because it has the best elements of a big city and a smaller town.
When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in public relations?
LB: I was on my high school’s yearbook committee, and it was the class I looked forward to most. I enjoyed writing the different articles and compiling the photos and graphics. When I got to the University of Delaware, I met with my adviser and it was an easy choice to pick communication as my major. I fell into PR when I realized I could work with so many different groups of people, get to know the media and help organizations reach their goals.
SW: I knew I wanted to be in PR after my previous gig ended as CFO. PR, at least for my skill sets, is a perfect intersection of media and business, two subjects about which I’m very passionate. I’ve always been fascinated with the media from the content and business/financial perspectives. While in college I read the book “The Powers That Be” by the late Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Halberstam and was hooked.
What’s the biggest challenge that you’ve faced in PR thus far? What did you learn from it?
LB: As a naturally quiet person (an anomaly in this industry), I’ve struggled with asserting myself and putting myself out there to compete with the louder, more outgoing voices in the industry. I’ve gained a lot of confidence by just remembering that no matter what work situation or meeting I find myself in, I deserve to be there, I know what I’m talking about and I have valid ideas to bring to the table as much as everyone else.
SW: I’m learning a lot about the human element of the stories we promote for our clients. Given my background in finance/accounting and as a B2B editor/writer, I tend to initially view stories through a business lens. I am learning how to re-calibrate that thinking and the Bradford Group is helping me do that.
What are you most looking forward to at the Bradford Group, both personally and professionally?
LB: As someone who is still relatively new in town, I’m looking forward to getting to know the team and meeting new people. Professionally, I’m excited to learn more about working with B2B clients – in my last position, I primarily worked with B2C clients.
SW: Personally, I’m looking forward to being part of a small, creative team and supporting and encouraging each other. Professionally, I am eager to learn how to create, implement and manage integrated PR campaigns, as well as apply my experience in business development and administrative operations.
If you could time travel to the past or future, where would you go and why?
LB: Every time I watch Pearl Harbor with my mom, we talk about how we wished we grew up in the ‘40s. The fashion, the national pride, the value on interpersonal communication. No one was glued to their iPhones because they obviously didn’t exist yet.
SW: Hands down I would travel back to when I was young and visiting my aunt and uncle’s lake house with my family. I’d love to see how our family interacted now that I’m all grown up. It would be awesome to see how my Mom and Dad handled parenting us four kids!
What’s your greatest fear?
LB: Losing my immediate family members prematurely.
SW: Being viewed as irrelevant.
What’s your favorite food?
LB: The simple answer? Carbs.
What’s your favorite place to eat in Nashville?
LB: I don’t have a regular spot yet, but I really like Samurai Sushi in Midtown or Bartaco in 12South.
SW: Brown’s Diner. Love the greasy cheeseburgers.
What’s your favorite quote?
LB: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky
Hence why I took a chance and moved to Nashville!
SW: “Go Vols!” Ok, I only say that during football season. I don’t have a “go to” quote. I tend to quote a lot of song lyrics since I am a huge music fan.
What three words describe your personality?
LB: Reliable, quiet, loyal.
SW: Friendly, cheerful, optimistic.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
LB: A vet because I loved (and still do) animals. Pretty cliche.
SW: Professional football player.