PR execs Edelman, Marino, and Makovsky open up about working with their children

And Richard Edelman on the time his father called him "Honey" during a meeting.

(L-R) Frank Marino and John Marino
(L-R) Frank Marino and John Marino

What is it really like at PR firms where fathers and their children work together? With Father’s Day approaching, PRWeek asked the dads that head Marino, Makovsky, and Edelman - and their kids - to tell all. Here’s what we learned.

Fathers really are harder on their kids than they are on other employees.

Frank Marino, president and CEO of Marino, said he was tough on his son John Marino when he first joined the firm and was learning the ropes. John Marino is now COO and MD at the firm.

"For some of that work he did with me, and in other work he was doing with senior people in the organization, was I a little harder on him that I might be with someone else? Yes," said Frank Marino. "And that’s probably only because I had the luxury of him being my son and the expectations were higher."

Richard Edelman, chief executive of the eponymous PR agency founded by his father Daniel Edelman, said dads can lay down the law even before your first day on the job.

"I was in Chicago and about to go on a European vacation with very nice attractive lady," Richard Edelman said. "And [my father] said, ‘No. No vacation. You start work the day after business school.’"

Dads also have a way of letting kids know exactly when they’ve stepped over the line.

"Sometimes if he disagrees with me, his tone of voice is reminiscent of something he could use and get away with at home but maybe is inappropriate in a business environment," said Ken Makovsky, founder and president of Makovsky about his son Matt Makovsky. "And then we eye each other — and it is quickly dissolved."

Matt Makovsky, is chief strategy officer of Makovsky and CEO of Skylabs, the firm’s innovation laboratory.

Of course, dads are experts at embarrassing their kids.

"One time in a meeting, he called me ‘Honey,’" Richard Edelman said of his father. "Really, I wanted to die."

But then there are the benefits like knowing at least one person in the room absolutely, positively has your back.

"Any time there was a moment that maybe the room was too big for me when I started out, I took note that my father was in the room with me," John Marino said.

He explained that in his early years at the firm, he was about to walk into a boardroom of 25 people and realized he might not be ready to run a meeting.

At times like that, John Marino would see his father and remember, "That’s where I want to get to. That’s where I want to be," he said.

PR dads are also especially good at promoting their offspring.

"I mean he likes to gush about his family like any father," Matt Makovsky said. "I appreciate the adulation and the extremely nice and warm fatherly way he talks about me when he introduces me to people."

But the best part of the family PR experience might simply be how it gives dads and their kids more time together. Frank Marino said he is often told how lucky he is to work with his children every day.

"In the mornings I’ll come in here and get caught up in stuff," he said. "And I want to say good morning to mostly everyone else, but I want to go search out John. There’s no doubt it’s a tremendous benefit."

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