Dave Nuffer: Not Just Another ‘PR Guy’

Dave Nuffer

Nuffer, Smith, Tucker is celebrating its 45th anniversary, and to celebrate, we’re highlighting some of our past and current leaders. While many things have changed over the last four decades, one thing remains constant: all of our leaders have been at the forefront of redefining the role of public relations

Those with the privilege of witnessing Dave Nuffer as a friend and colleague knew his larger than life personality – full of charm, a belly-laugh recognizable across a crowded ballroom, and a love for all things Mexico, Hemingway and Padres baseball.

When he co-founded NST in 1974, Dave envisioned competing with the national firms in strategic niches. NST’s first professional niche – political campaigns – was short-lived, “too divisive,” he said later. Then came the two niches that remain today: branded companies headquartered in the Southwest and agri-food organizations. The firm’s first client, Dairy Council of California, is still a client to this day.

Dave was passionate about the public relations practice. Part of Dave’s perspective on PR and communications was that it needed to drive behavior change – taking NST and the industry one step further than just building awareness of an organization. “Dave talked about behavior change in his own, unique way,” said Kerry Tucker, who joined Dave and Bob Smith in 1980.

The firm sponsored colloquia to push the field with partners like San Diego State University and Northwestern University, resulting in numerous professional speaking engagements and recognition in professional publications.

Early on, Dave recognized that in order to be seen as a peer and trusted adviser by San Diego’s best and brightest, he needed to make strong and real connections with leading organizations. “Dave said, we’re on the outside looking in – we need to be on the inside looking out as peers working side-by-side on community issues with opinion leaders and power brokers,” said Kerry.

Dave worked tirelessly, and often pro bono, to support local nonprofits and community organizations, such as the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, San Diego Tourism Authority and Senior Community Centers, to name a few.

Kerry remembers when he knew that Dave had officially accomplished that shift to the inside. “Inevitably, there was a point in every meeting of opinion leaders when the room turned to Dave. He knew how to ask the important questions and had the respect of community leaders and executives.”

Dave helped give PR a seat at the table and it’s NST’s intention to continue to earn an inside seat.

Written in Dave’s obituary in The San Diego Union-Tribune in 2011: “He was a tireless booster of San Diego and a tremendously giving person,” said Mayor Jerry Sanders. “He was an informal adviser to me and was always helping on civic projects. He was also one of the most cheerful guys I knew.”

Internally at NST, Dave encouraged employees to follow their passions and explore new ideas.   He was known as a big thinker and encouraged his team to be one as well, a value that remains true at NST.

Over five decades in the PR industry, Dave developed a reputation as “Mr. PR” in San Diego, the go-to man for strategic communications. He served countless nonprofit organizations and community groups, always sharing a smile along with his expertise. To this day, many still mention Dave when hearing about NST, and the connections he made serve as a strong link between our current leadership team and the community.

The work of Dave and all of our past leaders is reflected in our current vision to redefine PR. While the vision was adopted a few years ago, Dave had done his part to redefine our profession, making it greater and more meaningful than some think when they hear “public relations.” He aimed high and created purpose for our firm that lives on today through our culture and values.

If you’re interested in learning more about NST’s commitment and passion to redefining PR and the San Diego community, please reach out.