In the world of New York City Public Relations, the closest thing to a dynasty is surely the Rubenstein family. The Rubenstein family has been a part of New York City public relations for decades.
Who is Howard Rubenstein?
Starting with Howard Rubenstein, the father, also a PR genius and one-of-a-kind. He remains the Chairman of Rubenstein Strategic Communications, which he started in his parent’s dining room in 1954. He tells how he opened his first office after his parents refused to answer the family phone with the business name.
Howard – now 83 years old – is still the CEO of Rubenstein and remains involved in the strategy and planning for many of the firm’s long-time clients at RSC. He has represented a who’s who of New York City, including multiple Mayors, the New York Yankees – and many more.
Howard Rubenstein also on the Executive Committees of the Real Estate Board of New York, NYC & Co., and the Association for a Better New York, where he was a founding member.
Rubenstein has executive duties or ongoing associations with the Foundation for the National Archives, City University of NY Business Leadership Council, Police Athletic League, and the Inner City Scholarship Fund of the Archdiocese of NY. That’s not mentioning the various positions of leadership and trust he held in the past. He was inducted into PR News’ PR People Hall of Fame in 2013.
Howard Rubenstein & Rubenstein’s Success
In Howard’s many years working in PR, he has gotten to know just about everybody who is anybody in New York City. The top of that list have quite possibly been his client at some point, many still are. He helped during various crises the city faced, including the bankruptcy issues in the 70s, race battles, several real estate crashes, and times when the city had such a terrible reputation they were losing tourism as a major form of revenue.
All of it. Rubenstein could be found in the background lending a helping hand, offering a friendly moment, sharing his thoughts and insights. Whatever seemed to be needed at that moment. Some people accused him of doing all of that to further his business interests. And some of it did exactly that.
Over the years, his firm has represented the notorious Harry and Leona Helmsley, Fred Trump, McDonald’s, Sarah – Duchess of York, Rupert Murdoch, and George Steinbrenner.
However, with all the A-list connections, many of them have gone through times when their careers seemed doomed, and Howard stuck with them believing and trusting them. The man is a genius at what he does, but he has a unique style too. It’s an unusual mix of self-deprecation and PR whiz kid rolled into one.
Underlying all of the success, the connections, even his long family history in journalism and PR, one of his deepest connections seems to be to New York City itself.
Howard Rubenstein is part of the life force of the city we love.To put it most simply, Howard Rubenstein is Public Relations royalty – in his prime, perhaps the greatest PR pro New York has ever seen.
All About Steven Rubenstein
His younger son, Steven Rubenstein is now the President of the firm – and is believed to have about 175 employees. He started working for the firm in the mailroom and over the years has gained a good understanding of the business, but hasn’t displayed the pure genius or fire of gravitas his father has.
Steven’s led the company into the digital age and most excited by the entertainment sector, and clients in that arena.
Steven is very busy with clients in media and entertainment, sports teams, real estate, news agencies, financial institutions, educational and cultural concerns, health care providers, non-profits and charitable organizations, and public, business, and government figures.
Clients that Steven is directly involved with include Tribeca Films, MGM, Walt Disney Company, and Lions Gate.
Howard Rubenstein – President of Rubenstein Public Relations
Richard is Howard’s oldest son, and the President of Rubenstein Public Relations, operating out of the same address as the larger RSC. This firm employs about 40 people and clients typically pay a $5-6K monthly fee.
Some clients represented by Richard’s firm include Jaguar and Land Rover Manhattan, the Moodsters, Miss Universe Organization, Vegas Girls’ Night Out, iRide, Park Lane New York, and National Endowment for Financial Education.
But the reports from RPR are often dismal regarding working conditions and length of time either employees or clients remain. There are far too many complaints from past and current employees about his unprovoked rants, angry outbursts, even in new client meetings, and total disregard for others.
He pays well, and the family name appears to get people signing up both as employees and clients, but the turnover is very high. One employee reported that within six months more than half of their employees left to be replaced by others. Such high turnover means the clients feel insecure with any continuity of representation.
He’s smart from the business side but doesn’t seem to have learned how to play well with others.
There’s no question that the Rubenstein dynasty will take a fall as there’s no heir apparent – and plenty of New York City PR firms wanting to take the clients – but the Rubenstein Associates family is surely Public Relations royalty.