Office: New York
Makovsky & Company is at the start of a four-year strategic plan. The initiative includes mandates for new practice areas and service offerings, geographic expansion, and the “consumerization” of its practice areas, which include financial and professional services; health; technology and energy; digital and branding; IR; and change management.
In late December, the firm hired former Burson-Marsteller chair Andrew Goldberg to lead its new corporate advisers unit, which is devoted to “change management.”
“A lot of internal communication issues have been brought on by mergers and acquisitions, succession planning – a whole host of reasons,” says CEO Ken Makovsky about the new practice.
The firm will be hoping to maintain its track record of closing nearly one third of every new business lead in 2011, up from about 20% in prior years.
New account wins helped grow the agency's digital and branding unit by 130% last year, including social media and interactive work for clients such as Guardian Life and Dataram. The health practice nabbed new work from three large global pharma companies and grew by 24%. In doing so, a number of key hires were made: Tom Jones, group VP, previously with Novartis, and Lee Davis, group VP, previously with Merck & Co.
The agency's overall 2011 revenues increased by 11% over 2010. Digital and branding and health performed best, but that was offset somewhat by contraction in its IR practice, which Makovsky attributes in part to recent SEC developments.
“A lot of companies are taking investor relations inside,” he notes, “so at the moment, we're not counting on growth there.”
Makovsky has forecasted 25% growth for this year, with an increased focus on programs that integrate social media and research. Plans are also in the works to open an office in Washington, DC, “given there is a policy dimension to almost everything we do,” he says.
In addition, the firm will rebrand this year with a new logo and website to reflect a more integrated approach to communications. “Historically, we've been strong in b-to-b,” explains Makovsky, “but we have the expertise to transfer that to the consumer side.”