Today we continue our analysis of top PR companies with an online presence with Makovsky + Company, the 25th most profitable firm in the US according to O’Dwyer’s latest list. The firm, founded in 1979, bills itself as “one of the nation’s leading independent global public relations, investor relations, and branding consultancies. “ As an initial note, we found Makovsky’s site to be one of the very best with regard to aesthetics and the caliber of authoritative information published there. However, an unsuspected issue arose in determining just how engaging and appropriate the site’s content and company transparency is.
The Digital “How To” of “Who Are We”
Ken Makovsky, President and CEO of the firm, is truly one of the PR world’s “heavy hitters”, but like so many top PR leaders, his company’s engagement of the digital world, though significant, has significant hurdles to overcome to be considered one of the top digital brands. Once again, this writer is forced to be more critical than positive when relating to our readers the “actual” online representation of a hugely successful company. Given that Makovsky himself has branded himself via authoritative PDF with buzz like: “Ken Makovsky knows digital media”, all readers should expect that his company’s digital presence might be flawless in every regard. In some ways, it actually is, but in others it is sadly flawed.
This site is well tailored in both appearance and function, but certainly nothing to submit to the Web 2.0 Expo in as far as innovation is concerned. Much like Makovsky’s expensive, if not so well tailored or stylish suits, neither the landing, nor the interior pages have much to say about the firm in terms of “digital awareness”, except that most of the experts there are finely tuned into digital communication. This in itself would be enough to catapult Makovsky’s online brand past many of the higher rated firms in our discussions, except for one dramatic detail, some of the articles are duplicate content, obviously “copy pasted” from other, more notable publications. First, let’s deal with the blogosphere, and this firm’s interaction with the digital community.
Image Through Digital Transparency
While Robbin S. Goodman, and David Rosen are obviously skilled writers, and experts in their fields, their associated blogs barely exist traffic wise, and have no comments to speak of. One aspect I do like, which can be seen on the site’s tech section, is the Industry issues tab. This section is however a little misleading. What appear to be industry news articles from external sources, are in fact still more articles by Goodman and other company professionals or collaborators. This is not altogether a bad thing, but it could be a little more transparent.
Another transparency issue appears in Makovsky’s “news section”, in that the firm appears to be scraping, or at least republishing duplicate content gleaned from PR Week and other publications. We doubt that either PR Week or Makovsky likely know that Google indexes these articles in full, they are not SEO experts after all. But, on the face of it, the original author of one referenced text (Kimberly Maul), or PR Week should have had to agreed to this republishing under this firms “news” heading .
Regardless of how this and other instances of duplicate content were gleaned, publishing them on one of the site of one of the world’s leading PR firms, without even mentioning the author, makes the firm a candidate for Everything’s PR Goofy Award. This is a major breach if digital media etiquette. I hope the firm can explain this issue to us, because honestly, we discovered this by accident. The MSNBC example of this “anomaly” seems to be by far the most onerous in implication.
To be honest, this diversion into SEO, transparency, and to be frank, copyright issues, pretty much diverted our attention away from the fact that the Makovsky + Company site has low digital branding implications, regardless of the site’s aesthetics and authoritative experts. It seems obvious that most of the news articles on the site were somehow either written for PR Week by Makovsky professionals (including the founder himself), many of which correctly reveal the authors.
However, using the whole articles is not something in keeping with what a cutting edge media firm would even consider, especially since the PR Week versions are within their premium paid subscription services. A better news solution surely could have been arrived at.
Makovsky + Company, like all the other entries into the “Digital PR Sweepstakes”, has the resources smaller entities like ours and other firms do not. It is fairly obvious that the company has hired top professionals to fulfill the “digital conversation” aspect of a true digital media company, but somewhere in the busy New York lifestyle, one or more people beneath Makovsky himself, dropped the ball big time.
If anyone walking down 34th Street in New York notices an uncomfortable fellow on the curb, with a cow directly behind him, rest assured it is none other than Ken Makovsky, having just had it after reading what someone did on his site. Copying content is something we all deplore, a common ailment of having had all ours pilfered from the pages of the Web, it is not however something one comes to expect from the top of the food chain. We sincerely hope at least a disclosure relating to this appears on the site, or at least that we are categorically wrong in our observations.