Agency News

Advocacy is my passion.
It’s what led me to law school at Washington University in St. Louis many years ago. But to my surprise I learned that the law was one of several means of advocacy. Advocating for a cause influencing the court of public opinion was what I found truly exciting, moreso than influencing the court of law. This passion coupled with a yen for entrepreneurism led me to start my own firm, and found it upon the values of strategic advocacy for our clients.

The Makovsky agency has succeeded for nearly a thousand clients, thriving on the waves of change in how our work is performed. We started on a shoestring without clients! Our 40th Anniversary is a natural moment for reflection on our achievements—and the nearly 300 awards we have won, as well as the evolution of the firm and the spectacular talent that has graced our organization.

Over the past forty years, our industry has survived and prospered, during times of peace, prosperity and stability as well as uncertainty, polarization and challenging economies. With that long-term perspective in mind, here is my opinion of “the 10 most important” developments affecting PR in the past 40 years:

The March of Technology: When Makovsky opened up in 1980 with just me and my administrative assistant, our primary tools were a few IBM Selectric typewriters. Today, due to the pandemic, our entire agency is running remotely and fully online from locations throughout the country. In forty years hence, perhaps our Zoom calls and iPhones will look similarly quaint. Makovsky is constantly seeking tools that help us better advocate for our clients and conduct business more efficiently. Sticking to core values and embracing the march of technology has been essential to our longevity.

The Digital Impact: The internet revolution ignited such huge changes within our business that it’s often hard to remember when print media was king. Clients today expect that we can analyze their impressions, social engagement and the size of their global audiences—all a measure of eyeballs on digital channels. Yet, it wasn’t that long ago that our business-to-business clients persisted in asking if their online article appeared in a publication’s print edition too as “we need that for the coffee table in reception.” Today, the communications environment is far more complex and fragmented.

Consequently, our focus on advocacy has led us to center strategies on reaching key audiences wherever they may be found; today’s multiplicity of channels enables that. Digital fueled 24/7 news cycles and also radically shifted crisis communications. No more thinking about the crisis overnight, nor delivering the strategy to the client “tomorrow.” Now Artificial Intelligence is bringing new vistas in communicating (e.g. Alexa) covering creativity, targeting and insights.

Specialization: Back in 1980 nearly every firm was a generalist. It was perfectly acceptable to tell a new tech client: “Give me a few days to learn your business.” Today you’d be laughed out of the park if you said that. So when I focused our first practice on technology, we made sure we knew the business before we walked in the door. We hired specialists and decided to make “deep specialization” our strategy in technology, financial services, investor relations and health. Our tagline: The Power of Specialized Thinking. We were somewhat unique. Over the years, specialization grew and today it is commonplace.

Consumer Power and Influence: Voices of countless individuals (from bloggers to podcasters) became more trusted than many “experts” and became influencers for seemingly every product, issue, and nuance. Further, many organizations today are not as dependent on advertising or traditional media to reach the consumer. Through the advent of search engines, social media and social listening, consumers are enabled to make informed decisions on purchases before they ever enter the physical or online retail environment. This changed the psychology of the sale.

The Arrival of Fake News: Our business is all about ethical advocacy as it gives clients a competitive edge and economic advantage. But today advocacy is harder than ever before thanks to fake news: disrupting a company’s ability to tell its own truthful story and negatively impacting its
reputation. The digital track and AI have made it easy to put words in people’s mouths that they never uttered and to create video and film to demonstrate events that never happened. Monitoring the media, crisis planning, and tech advances are among ways to defend and sustain the purity of our advocacy message.

The “End” of Privacy: A recent survey found that 64 percent of internet users believe organizations are not completely transparent about how they use customers’ personal data. When privacy is openly breached, it’s a reputation killer and an expensive credibility situation to fix. In the U.S., with the exception of a few states we do not have standardized privacy rights. The opposite is true in the European Union.

New Ways to Collaborate: I think of today vs. yesteryear and am certain we have turned collaboration on its face. There is Google Docs vs. making photocopies for all, then coordinating everyone’s changes. There is “everyone has his or her own office” vs. open seating or cubicle seating. The idea: tear walls down and collaborate. Private offices got smaller; conference rooms increased. Even with Covid-19’s attack on open seating, we will not reverse course, but use socially distanced desks. Working from home accelerated the success of virtual collaborative teams.

Revolution in Measurement and Data Analytics: This was not even on most client agendas 40 years ago! We now have computer dashboards for client access at any time to see our media relations results, for example. This has progressed from analysis of media presence compared with
competitors; share of voice, to a range of data (circulation, dates of publication, message identification, etc.). Today we message test on targets before communicating, which helps determine overall strategy, and research the impact of campaigns. PR practitioners with analytics skills are in demand and training our talent along these lines is critical.

Rise of the Communications Role: It’s rare that we get a client who doesn’t have a Chief Communications Officer (CCO), compared to years ago when you could not count on it. The position and its responsibilities have grown in importance in a complex world. A 2019 report by the Page Society, based on the input of 200+ CCOs around the world, found that the CCO “is becoming increasingly multi-faceted, amid sweeping changes in C-suite structures, company cultures, stakeholder engagement, business models and technology.” More and more CCOs report to the CEO.

PR Emerges From Behind-the-Scenes: Before I started Makovsky, practitioners worked behind the scenes, preparing frontline client executives for their moment in the sun. We still do that, but the clients and agencies today are more open about retaining PR. It was a big deal the day a major client I worked on, a scientist from DuPont representing the aerosol industry, was set for a TV debate with the New York City head of consumer affairs on the fluorocarbon challenge. At 4 PM the day before the debate, the scientist cancelled out. The client suggested I stand in his place. But leadership at the agency I worked at had to approve—so I met with the chairman, president, and EVP to discuss the image of publicly identifying me with one client, as I was assigned to others also. Would that hurt the agency’s business? (It didn’t!). We were supposed to stay in the background. Today what is inside is outside. There are few secrets anymore. (P.S.The debate went GREAT!!)

Our profession has been in a whirlwind of change since 1980. It hasn’t stopped yet. We’re banking on the future!

Ken Makovsky is the president and CEO of Makovsky Integrated Communications.


“Help us tell our story as a critical player
in the cybersecurity of the world’s medical devices.”
Want to know how we “bridged the gap” with the medical community and regulators to explain MedSec’s critical role in leading medical device cybersecurity?

Give us a call and we’ll show you how we did it!


“Help us showcase our expertise in meeting
the capital needs of American small businesses"
Want to know how we helped this direct lender to lower and middle market businesses gain the favor of the media and the investor community?

Give us a call and see how we lent our hand!


“Help us raise our corporate profile as an accounting and consulting leader, while navigating perceptual challenges amidst complicated client programs.”
Want to know how we fiercely guarded our client’s
reputation while promoting its practitioners’ thought leadership?

Let’s consult the
manual together!


“Help us launch our new network roll-out and use advanced analytics to understand each local market’s reactions and how to respond.”
Want to know how we used advanced social listening to help Sprint get a leg up in an extremely competitive space?

Give us a call and we’ll walk you through this award-winning campaign!


“Help us solidify our reputation and
value proposition ahead of our IPO.”
Want to know how we leveraged a proactive integrated comms plan to help take Paycom public and have its stock double in the first year?

Give us a call and we’ll walk you through it!


“Help us amplify our voice and lead our industry against retaliatory tariffs and practices.”
Want to know how we used comprehensive programs targeted at policy makers, industry advocates and media to help get Hardwood included in phase one U.S. / China trade deal?

Give us a call and we’ll show you how!


“Help us define innovation as an organization, and develop programs that catalyze our people around creating what’s next.”
Want to know how we used rapid-prototyping and real-time validation to build new innovation stories?

Let’s get in the lab and we’ll show you how Innovation Relations works up close.


“Help us claim our position among the global consulting elite.”
Want to know how we leveraged thought-leadership and blue-chip business media to raise Kearney’s corporate profile to new heights?

Let’s dive in together.


“Help us promote & accelerate the growth of our Independent Registered Investment Advisor Business”
Want to know how we helped Schwab dramatically grow the number of RIAs and set a new RIA market standard by developing a national award and garnering over 1 billion media impressions?

Give us a shout and we can lay out the portfolio.


“Help us destigmatize COPD disease and raise
awareness of our treatments to get patients the care that they need.”
Want to see how our team developed a film series to create a lens into COPD and built support for patients who are fighting everyday?

Give us a call and we’ll take you behind the scenes!


“Help us promote our brand
and IP to accelerate the growth of our consulting services into new markets.”
Want to know how we built visibility for Mercer and its expertise in healthcare, investments and career trends?

Give us a call and we’ll take you through our work!


“Help us position ourselves as the go-to firm for advising and recruiting C-suite executives.”
Want to know how we helped RR build its reputation as an expert in building executive suites and boardrooms to meet the sustainability and diversity needs of today?

Give us a call and we’ll show you the playbook!


“Help us differentiate ourselves in an industry where knowledge is power.”
Want to know how we developed global thought leadership franchises to help Booz dominate the C-Suite conversation?

Give us a call and let’s dissect the strategy!


"We are the largest private provider of military housing. Help us evolve our reputation to match the standard of our service."
Want to know how we helped Hunt bounce negative news from Google through proactive media outreach and favorable coverage?

Let’s get in the trenches and take a look together!


“Help us communicate our leading solar Investment platform to the investor community and the broader public at large.”
Want to know how we used traditional media, digital media and events to help our client reach record industry leading deal-flow?

Let’s step into the sun and have a chat!


"Help us generate excitement among institutional investors for innovations in fertility technology.”
Biotech startups emerge everyday, but only one was the lead story in Institutional Investor and
Bloomberg in the same week.

Give us a call and learn how TMRW became the biotech investment story of today.


“Help us launch a new kind of asset class to institutional and retail investors”
Want to know how we leveraged NYL’s portfolio managers to showcase their EIG 130/30 offering?

Let’s dig into the numbers together!


“Help us evolve the company’s story from a
IT services firm to a digital solutions provider”
Want to know how we establish LTI's reputation as a thought leader for CIOs around the globe?

Give us a call and we’ll show you how we did it!


“Help us communicate the unique breakthrough of our new cholesterol treatment in a very crowded marketplace”
Want to know how we differentiated LIVALO and championed lowering cholesterol in patients across the country?

Give us a call and we’ll show you the plan!


“Help us launch our new CLA and reach the millennial audience in unexpected and new ways.”
Want to know how we leveraged a multi-industry influencer strategy to get the car in front of a younger audience?

Give us a call and we’ll look under the hood!


“Everyone is touched by mental health; we all have a story. We needed to be more than a resource for young adults but a true leader in everyday conversation.”
Want to know how we helped JED tackle suicide prevention and awareness?

Give us a call and we’ll fill you in.


“Stores open every day in NYC. We needed the right people on the ground, who understand the media in the city that never sleeps — oh and help New Yorkers get a little more rest in the process!”
Want to know how we created a show stopping customer experience for Sleep Number’s grand opening?

Give us a call and get under the sheet!

Association for Computing Machinery

“Help us define and communicate a code of ethics
to help the technology industry move forward.”
Want to know how we fueled the discussion and built the case for the ethical use of technology by developing the “Nobel Prize” of computing?

Give us a call and we’ll show you how!


“Help us educate oncologists about a rare cancer and our innovative Theragnostics treatment.”
Want to know how our campaign helped AAA garner FDA approval and move towards an acquisition by Novartis?

Give us a call and we’ll take you through the playbook!


“Help us launch our new drug to treat
primary and progressive Multiple Sclerosis.”
Want to know how we used digital and social analytics to understand the patient conversation and guide the ongoing communications?

Let’s get in the lab and we’ll show you how we did it!


“Help us raise awareness of our innovative environmental packaging. Redefine our sustainability and growth story."
Want to know how we used an integrated communications program to demonstrate the value of Vericool’s breakthrough offering?

Let’s open up the package and dive in!


“Help us establish awareness and trust for our breakthrough drug to treat severe morning sickness.”
Want to know how we generated over 1 billion media impressions and cultivated 25 patient advocacy organizations?

Give us a call and we’ll put our arms around the program together!


“Help us establish and bolster our reputation as a legal thought-leader in the clean energy arena.”
Want to know how we helped accelerate law firm Bracewell’s revenue and geographic expansion?

Let’s open up the books and dive in together.


“Help us demonstrate the value to converting trash from landfills into transportation fuel.”
Want to know how we reached out to the landfill industry ecosystem and helped accelerate the adoption of Fortistar’s approach?

Let’s have a look together!


“Help us develop a public relations platform
to raise our profile within and advocate for the energy storage industry.”
Want to know how we used strategic media relations to build ESA as a thought-leader and to bolster record numbers of attendance at its annual conference?

Give us a call and we’ll walk you through it!


“Help us re-imagine our 150-year old brand from a products to a solutions company.”
Want to know how we re-branded the company and helped Hubbell achieve the #1 media share of voice three years in a row?

Let’s turn on the lights and have a look!


“Help us demonstrate the premium value
and quality difference of our LED lighting products.”
Want to know how we helped this emerging company go from zero to $150m in revenue in four years?

Give us a call and we’ll shine the light on it!