Beth Huffman has spent the past four decades working as a communications, media and marketing professional. She began her professional career primarily serving as a sports writer, most notably for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
She transitioned to legal marketing in 2006 and then joined Dechert in 2007, serving the firm for a decade in a progression of roles that had her traveling around the world, including Global Director of Communications.
Beth joined Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough in 2017 as the firm’s head of marketing and has since built a phenomenal and dedicated team.
An avid sports fan, Beth loves to bake and crochet and is the mother to three sons and three grandchildren.
Learn more about her in this Women Who Wow profile.
What do you love most about what you do?
The people. The absolute great thing about doing professional services marketing is your product is basically people. Faces, names, people. Not a widget or an object. I am passionate about the people and the work they do. I have been fortunate to work with very talented lawyers who help their clients to the best of their abilities. I’ve worked on cutting-edge legal stories that have made the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and major legal publications, that is invigorating to know what your lawyers are doing is that important. To be the one responsible for helping them get more work, or to get their work broadly known in the press is rewarding. I’ve also been fortunate at one firm to travel significantly abroad, which allowed me to learn more about the legal profession outside the U.S. and to see the world.
How do you achieve work/life balance?
I was very fortunate during my career as a reporter that the Philadelphia Inquirer had many of us working from home – pretty progressive for the 1980s and 90s. I was able to get the kids to school, write like a mad woman until they got home, all the while popping up to put something in the crock pot or do the laundry. I could do my turn as “lunch mother” or get far enough ahead on my writing that I could easily make after school games and activities. Because I wrote mostly college and high school sports, I had most of the summers off, or with limited work.
When I left being a reporter and moved to PR, my children were pretty much grown and off to college, so travel wasn’t a problem for me. One thing I recognize as a manager of people now is how lucky I was and the need to be flexible, so if someone comes to me and says they need to pick a child up, or leave early for a game, we talk about how to fit that in. And that is both my male and female team members. I had a male employee seemingly flustered one day and he told me about an issue with his autistic child missing the bus – I asked why he was still here and he said he was afraid to ask to leave. I told him he was no different from the mothers on my team and to go get his child. It bothered me that he didn’t think I would treat him the same. I admit now that I still do check my emails too often, but I’m working on doing better at taking time away from the screen.
Which woman most inspires you and why?
I worked with a really great lawyer at a previous firm named Miriam Gonzalez. At the time we worked together her husband, Nick Clegg, was Deputy Prime Minister of England. Miriam not only balanced her legal career as a top trade and Brexit attorney with her personal demands. She didn’t flinch when the British papers would talk more about what she wore than what she said. Miriam has started a charity called Inspiring Girls, and she works every day to give young girls across the world the confidence and tools to help themselves. While Miriam continues to use her voice to discuss political issues, her day-to-day work with this charity is so inspiring.
What do you think is the key for success in a role like yours?
The ability to communicate and build relationships with diverse groups of people. You need to know your partners and what they do the help them. You need to be able to speak to them in a way they respect and push back when needed. You need to guide the younger attorneys, they are often all over the place and really appreciate insights that could help them succeed. For non-marketing department peers and co-workers, understanding what they do, what time of the year might be most difficult for them and why is important.
For years I’ve brought in treats for the accounting department as they rush to work over the holidays for year-end and for the HR department as they process all the year-end changes. I think it is key to connect with other departments.
Within the marketing department, you need to know your team, their capabilities, aspirations and needs. It can be a difficult balancing act to manage their needs and that of the department. Finally, I think the ability to network outside the firm, with vendors, journalists and peers at other firms is crucial.
What is a surprising/fun fact about you?
I was a sports writer most of my life, starting at the age of 16 for my local hometown paper. I was the first woman Sports Editor for the University of Notre Dame’s Observer. I covered the Cincinnati Bengals and Ohio State football early in my career and then moved to Philadelphia where I spent 13 years covering sports for the Inquirer. Because I was usually the only woman in the sports newsroom, or at an event covering a team, I learned early how be heard and respected.