Paul Holmes 22 Apr 2012 // 11:00PM GMT
NEW YORK—Ken Makovsky launched Makovsky + Company in 1979, into an already crowded New York marketplace. It’s hard to say which is more impressive: the things that haven’t changed in the three decades since that launch, or the things that have.
In the latter category, you could count the decency and integrity that have been the hallmarks of Makovsky’s management style since the early days of his firm. Makovsky has spoken of his conviction that “public relations is a scared trust,” that the practice, employed correctly, has the potential to benefit both business and society, a belief he has put into action through his work in areas such as higher education, human rights, health, and economic development.
You could add the focus on client service that led Makovsky to introduce one of the first “total quality management” programs in the public relations industry back in the 1980s, and that continues today through an internal client review committee and quarterly calls to clients by an independent auditor.
You could also cite his commitment to internationalism, as a founder of IPREX, the international network of independent PR firms that has grown to include partners in 37 US markets and 26 countries; his board five-year board tenure on the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce; and most recently an alliance with a leading Indian PR agency.
You could even discuss his commitment to “the power of specialized thinking,” an approach that underpins his firm’s ability to help clients communicate complex and often highly technical information to a broad audience across specialized practice areas such as financial and professional services, health sciences, and technology.
But just as impressive is the way Makiovsky has adapted to recent developments in the field, recasting a 30-year-old firm as a serious player in the digital and social media age.
Makovsky was one of the first PR agency chief executives to launch his own blog, and he has certainly been one of the industry’s most prolific bloggers, providing insightful and incisive commentary on an array of issues, being named one of the country’s top 10 CEO bloggers (among all CEOs, not just PR people) by Chief Executive magazine.
At the same time, he has been relentlessly modernizing Makovsky + Company’s approach to public relations, helping clients in highly-regulated industries engage via social media and developing a branding and interactive practice that integrates PR and marketing disciplines in a channel-neutral way.
All of that has helped Makovsky + Company keep its place at the pinnacle of the New York agency world through good times and bad. It has almost doubled in size over the past five years and grew by 12 percent last year to around $12 million, with new business from Guardian Life, Credit Suisse and two of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies joining a roster that includes Booz & Company, Charles Schwab and Russell Reynolds.
Makovsky + Company was named Small Agency of the Year by our predecessor publication back in 1990 and a PR All-Star in 1992. Last year he was named PR Blogger of the Year (by Bulldog and PR News), PR Executive of the Year (Best of Biz Awards), and Communications Professional of the Year (Bulldog). Now he adds a SABRE Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement.
The award will be presented at our annual SABRE Awards dinner, to be held May 8 at Cipriani on New York's 42nd Steet.