Makovsky & Company did not rush headlong into the Internet frenzy the way some of its competitors did—the headlong rush is not founder Ken Makovsky’s style—but it has not exactly been resting on its laurels either. With the selection of Brodeur Worldwide’s Mike Sockol to head a new MakInteractive unit and the introduction of its MakAlert Internet monitoring service, Makovsky signaled its intent to continue doing what it has always done—offering strategic, high-quality public relations programming to a diverse roster of business-to-business clients—but to do so in a way that helps its mainstream clients adjust to the digital age.
Makovsky is an agency that does almost all the little things right. There’s an emphasis on research and planning, on understanding the industries in which it works and the challenges facings its clients. There’s a commitment to quality—Makovsky was perhaps the first major U.S. PR firm to attempt to apply the tools and techniques of total quality management to the PR process. And there’s a belief in measurement that ties program objectives to business objectives. That’s why the Makovsky brand stands for excellence in client service.
The firm’s greatest strengths are in business-to-business marketing and investor relations, with a heavy presence in several key industry sectors: technology and telecommunications, professional and financial services, and healthcare. Major client wins in 2000 included First Data Corporation, Deutsche Bank, Guardian Life Insurance, and Scudder Kemper Investments, and interesting ongoing assignments included work for Celgene (the biopharmaceutical company that reintroduced thalidomide for AIDS patients), CIGNA, and Tradeout.com. Revenues were up about 20 percent to hit $10 million for the first time.
Makovsky has also made a handful of major hires to prepare for growth. In addition to Sockol, the firm brought in Donna Ramer as managing director in the health sciences group, and senior VPs Leon Berman (investor relations), Tim Deighton (financial services) and Nick Cerami (healthcare). Connie Kaplan, formerly director of information resources at security specialist Kroll-O’Gara, joined as director of the firm’s Knowledge Center, but perhaps the most significant hire—at least in terms of its long-term implications—was Hylton Barnes, who will head a new London office, Makovsky’s first outside its New York headquarters. Further geographic expansion is likely in the next 12 months.