By Vince Meehan
San Diego native Rebecca Bamberger is the founder and CEO of BAM Communications, a local public relations firm located in the iconic El Cortez Hotel building. Her business cred is impeccable, having completed a MBA program at the University of Pittsburgh as their youngest graduate ever and founding multiple successful companies including Bite, the largest food tour company in the country. But Bamberger likes to have fun as well, and her twin offices at the El Cortez are testament to this. Her ground-floor patio suites are decorated with an eclectic collection of motifs ranging from neon art deco to Warhol-style pop art. A theater-style marquee greets visitors at the entrance with customized messages. The kitchen is stocked with fresh coffee, local craft beer and unique bottles of wine. The result is a work place that feels like a place you’d want to chill out at. And this is the essence of BAM Communications.
“It’s great because it feels very homey and you’re also in a piece of history,” Bamberger said about her headquarters. “So there’s the original archways and crown molding and things that you’re not going to find in a newer building, and I love that. I love architecture, and something as prominent as this building, which I’ve always known as a child… when you fly in, you see the little red letters come up — I always thought, ‘That’s a really neat building,’ so the chance to get in here, and at the ground level where you can have a patio and a garden was just magic… and here we are!”
Bamberger likes to go by the name of “Beck” and her business card is made of metal with those letters stamped out of the middle. Her parents met while both stationed here with the Navy, and as many Navy people do, they decided to stay in San Diego. Early on, she was drawn to the idea of being a storyteller and landed a summer internship at KUSI. After college, she was hired as an associate producer at NBC 7/39 here in San Diego. Then she hosted her own TV show on the CW Network called “Best and Brightest in San Diego,” that featured local CEOs. “I had Ralph Rubio [of Rubio’s Fish Tacos] and he was just iconic,” Bamberger said. “I mean, how do you do an IPO with tacos? And how do you even start? He was just amazing!”
Bamberger won an Emmy Award for her show and fell in love with the art of storytelling. Along the way, she met a PR person who introduced her to the world of public relations and a light bulb went on. “I thought, ‘Oh, I can do a PR firm, that sounds easy-ish,’” Bamberger said recalling her first notion of entering PR. “You know, you have a phone, you have a laptop, and you’re good to go because unlike law or medicine, you do not need any degree or license or exam to qualify you as a PR person.”
Soon after, Bamberger started BAM Communications and began representing small local boutiques and businesses as well as a handful of restaurants. Her clients included Burger Lounge and Luna Grill, which have both gone on to achieve great success. But along the way, she decided to raise the bar by shifting her focus to tech companies, primarily venture capital-backed startups located in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and even overseas.
This strategy has proved to be very successful and given Bamberger the confidence to seek out new clients based on the potential they have to make the world a better place. It’s almost as if these companies have to pitch them, as opposed to the other way around. And Bamberger feels very strongly about representing companies that impress her. She chooses to focus on tech companies that are trying to solve large problems in today’s world, especially if it reduces waste or helps the ecosystem. “We focus on [what] we can arguably say, ‘If they become successful, this is going to be a good thing.’ Really, we look for as the number one thing, is this really a huge problem being solved, and do we think these people can do it?” Bamberger said. “So just like they get all this money from venture capitalists, and they have to convince them to dole out the money, they need to convince us to represent them.”
Yes, there may be a little bit of swagger in the step of Rebecca as she leads BAM Communications into future success, but that success will be grounded in a fun hideaway at the top of Cortez Hill. And while a tech community has yet to sink roots in San Diego, Bamberger sees that happening in the near future and looks forward to it.
— Vince Meehan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.