Ken Makovsky’s firm delivers “the power of specialized thinking,” an approach that has guided Makovsky + Company for more than a quarter of a century. It underpins the firm’s practice area structure, which includes experts in financial and professional services, health sciences, technology and investor relations, but it also describes its philosophy, which requires those experts to apply their specialized knowledge to help clients communicate complex and often highly technical information to a broad audience in a way that makes it easy to understand and capable of driving business results.
The firm has built on that approach over the past 12 months, producing intellectual capital highlighting the “green gap” between what company executives believe they should be doing to help the environment and their companies’ actual actions and introducing a new “sustainability consortium” in collaboration with other environmentally-focused professional service firms. Never one to rest on his laurels, Makovsky also invested in its branding + interactive practice, which grew by 145 percent over 12 months, and expanded the firm’s social media offering with new tools—including a social media audit and a virtual newsroom product—while continuing his own blog, one of the best-read in the industry.
In an increasingly complex and challenging communications environment, it’s not surprising that more and more companies find Makovsky’s philosophy compelling, and growth in 2008 was around 19 percent, fueled by exceptional client retention—averaging 75 percent over the past five years—and continued expansion of the healthcare and financial services practices. As a result, Makovsky surpassed $10 million in fees for the first time (fee income was actually around $11 million) and ranked among the top 25 independents in the U.S., and the top 10 in New York. There was new business from Bausch & Lomb, Coldwell Banker Commercial, Johnson Controls, Russell Reynolds Associates, sanofi-aventis, Quest Diagnostics, and United Kingdom Trade & Investment. They join a roster that includes Abbott, Alexion, Arrow Electronics, Charles Schwab, Baring Asset Management, Booz & Company, Johnson & Johnson, New York Life Investment Management, and restaurant chain O’Charley’s.
Among a number of increasingly mission-critical client campaigns, Makovsky generated millions of positive media impressions for TransitChek, raising awareness from 42 percent to 53 percent and increasing employee participation to 62 percent; worked with two law firms and Kos Pharmaceuticals’ legal advisors to victory in the battle to make Niaspan available to Medicare beneficiaries by restoring Part D coverage, driving a 24 percent sales increase; emphasized patient safety after gadolinium-based imaging agents—including Covidien’s OptiMark—faced a crisis of confidence following an FDA warning about a possible link with kidney failure; Handled global employee communications for Bausch & Lomb; led corporate branding and C-suite marketing efforts for Russell Reynolds; and helped restructure Booz Allen’s first Global Innovation 1000 study to earn plaudits in BusinessWeek and other key media.
“Our public relations program has succeeded in differentiating Booz & Company’s expertise and thought leadership in a highly competitive marketplace,” says Michael Bulger, director of public relations for Booz & Company. “The Makovsky team has played a critical role in both strategy and execution, and our superior results are a testament to this strong partnership, now in its seventh year.” Adds Sandra Galvin, director, marketing and communications, for Russell Reynolds Associates: “Our partnership with Makovsky + Company has delivered outstanding visibility and has raised the profile of our consultants as thought leaders in their key markets and targeted industries, and has more competitively positioned our thought leadership and subject matter expertise in the market. This has led to increased opportunities to present our qualifications and capabilities to our valued clients and prospects, and has positively impacted our business development results in 2008.”
Given the need for deep domain expertise in each of its practice areas, Makovsky boasts an unusually strong management team for a midsized firm, including Tim Wallace, head of corporate strategy, who provides counsel on crisis management and branding assignments; Robbin Goodman, who leads the technology and business services practices and leads online communications strategies; veteran healthcare communications executive Gil Bashe; Scott Tangney, who joined as executive vice president and leader of the financial and professional services practice after serving as head of the public relations group at Publicis Dialog New York; and Timothy Kane, who joined as executive vice president of branding and visual communications after holding senior creative positions with advertising agency giants McCann Erickson, J. Walter Thompson, Young & Rubicam and DDB.
Makovsky is a founding member of IPREX, a network of leading independent agencies in local markets around the world that provides access in 57 cities and 25 countries and in 2008 worked with IPREX partners and other affiliate firms in the U.K., Asia and the Middle East to direct assignments for clients including Ogier Group, Focus Financial Partners, Russell Reynolds, Adventity, and Baring Asset Management.