President & Founder
Adam is a hands-on PR generalist who understands today’s evolved media landscape and how to secure high-impact results for his clients. His career and cornerstone of SpecOps mission is built on results, and is further supported by the belief that it’s really about what people say about you, not what you say about yourself.
Over the past twenty years, Adam has been fortunate to work with incredible people, brands, companies and organizations, and even a few of his personal heroes. While with Hearst Books in the early 90′s, Adam handled Ray Bradbury, Dick Schaap, Stephen Pressfield (The Legend of Bagger Vance), Congressman Timothy Penny, Maj. Ralph Peters and David Ignatius of the Washington Post. Those early days of cutting his PR chops were instrumental to his future success because it taught him the basic skills that very few in this day and age use… knowing how to communicate on the phone rather than being dependent on email.
With a background that transcends both the client-side and agency worlds, Adam has led PR and media programs for a diverse group of emerging brands to Fortune 100 corporations. This work included such recognizable brands as Starbucks, Philips Van Heusen, GE, Evian, World Gym, Shopping.com, Merck, ProLink, Nice Systems, EDS, Patina Restaurant Group, Guardian Angel, Cardinal Health and Mercantile Capital Group. In 1996, while working as an Account Supervisor at a NYC agency, he created the Starbucks Coffee “Green Team” in the process of trying to figure out how to generate positive coverage for the company. He wrangled twenty-five employees to clean up Morningside Park in New York City on this new concept called ‘Earth Day’, which turned out to be a little bigger than he originally thought. The Parks & Recreations Commissioner at the time, Henry Stern, sang happy birthday to the Earth on a fledgling Fox News Channel.
Prior to founding SpecOps Communications, Handelsman served as the Managing Director at Lippert/Heilshorn & Associates (LHA), where he directed the media relations programs for the organization’s public and private accounts, drove new business and managed the firm’s external communications. Before LHA, he served as the EVP; National Director of Strategic Media Relations for Cohn & Wolfe and prior to that position, he was the EVP & Partner at 5W Public Relations. At 5W, Handelsman played an instrumental role in the firm’s dramatic growth from a 10 person shop to an 85 person agency in just four years. In addition to overseeing the management and account services at 5W, he spent his time developing staff, and providing senior level strategy and message development on the firm’s anchor accounts.
In the dot com era, Adam was the director of Public Relations at Netpulse, creator of the Internet Powered Workout, headed by Thomas Proulx (co-founder of Intuit and author of Quicken). At Netpulse, which was one of the original place-based advertising networks, he personally secured over 3000 media hits in three years. Prior to Netpulse, he held positions at two New York based public relations’ firms. Handelsman began his PR career at the Avon Books, a division of the Hearst Corporation.
Recognized as a thought leader in the Public Relations sector; in October 2007, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) New York Chapter.