Interview - Max Markson

Interview: Max Markson, Director of Markson Sparks! - 2nd July 2003


Greg Tingle "tracks down" the founder of Markson Sparks!, the publicist, the publicity machine himself, Mr Max Markson.

Max is in New Zealand, tying down some deals with sports stars, organizing charity events utilizing some of his major talent, like Bill Clinton (former United States President), Rudy Giuliani (America's Mayor) and Sebastian Coe (Olympic legendary athlete) and more.

This memorable interview even includes Max sharing some of his trade "secrets", little known facts and Max even sings for our audience!

Many thanks for Max and his wonderful staff for making this interview a reality, in addition to thanks to Mr Martin Cook, Director of The Media Game, whose sound studio at Coogee Beach, Australia, has been invaluable, in our latest round of telephone interviews.

Greg Tingle interviews Max Markson: Listen here

Max Markson (answers telephone)

EDITED.Hi Max. It's Greg Tingle. How are you?

I'm here for you. Let's go.

All right. Fantastic.

This is Greg Tingle reporting for Media Man Australia. We're speaking to public relations guru, and who knows what else he's doing these days, Max Markson. Welcome to the program.

Greg, good to be with you.

Thankyou. So Max, tell me, what can you disclose about what your doing in New Zealand at the moment?

I'm coordinating a host of functions here for charity fund raising events that were are doing later this year, and were have got a little office here in Auckland, with a couple of staff here, and we're coordinating visits in Australia and New Zealand for the former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani next up, then we're got Jose C, were doing a couple of events in Auckland and Wellington for Dame C C whose launching her Dame C C Foundation.

Great. Absolutely huge. So, how long have you been working with the right people over in New Zealand for?

We have been over here for just over 15 months. We organised for BMW to bring President Clinton here in May 2002, and then we having been doing some events here for all sorts of people....

You're mentioning some pretty heavy names. What is the secret to your success and how do you gain the confidence of the big stars you've mentioned?

You just ask. The best advice I can give anybody is just pick up the phone and ask.

Just like we're speaking today?


What are the main things you do for clients? Why do people want to deal with MAX MARKSON?

I'm enthusiastic about what I do. I enjoy what I do and I think at the end of the day, if you have enjoy what you do, you'll succeed and people will want to deal with you.

I agree with that and I think most people who are successful would too. What do you think you are most well know for?

Pavlova sittings, wet T-shirt contests…. My involvement with President Clinton. We've done more functions with him then anyone else in the world, raised millions of dollars for charities. Over the last 5 years in Sydney and Australia we've run over 120 functions and raised over 23 million dollars.

You sound like a very motivated person. What motivates you?

I enjoy what I do and I have to do something everyday when I get up in the morning.

You're doing a good job and the right kind of money is coming in?

I don't think money is the motivation, if you work hard, and enjoy what you are doing, the money will come. I never focused on money but you do have to take care of business and obviously, when you do things, I'm sure you're going to earn money. If you do the thing right and your professional and have a positive mental attitude, you'll get paid accordingly.

You've got a lot of your plate, how do you work out and delegate what aspects of the business you run and the ones you pass on to others?

I try to delegate everything. I have a fantastic team around me. I continually get that feedback. My wife is tremendous. I have a solid family around me. It's the same in the office. Everything that happens in the office, somebody else does it, not me. I'm just hanging around.

In the short time we've been in contact, things have moved forward at a rapid pace and we're even speaking overseas and that very much impresses me.

I only picked up a telephone call, being overseas is neither here nor there.

I think I read in one of your past interviews, the telephone is your most important tool of the trade is it not?

If you're in the communication game, you need to contact people and the mobile phone has made that tremendous. I used to say, I could run a business anywhere given I had a desk and a phone. Now you don't even need the desk. You can do it all with a mobile.

What about some of this newer technologies like the internet, how would you say the internet helped and hindered aspects of your business?

It hasn't hindered it at all. It's made communication a lot easier and it's great for when you're dealing with overseas people, because it doesn't matter what hour of day or night it is, they can send you a message and you can respond when you're awake.

You work with a lot of people, how do you and your team identify and judge good talent?

It's a gut feeling on what their attitude is. People with the right attitude can do anything. They don't have to be qualified or skilled in that area of industry but if they've got the attitude they will be able to turn their work ethic into success in that field of business.

That basic platform makes life a lot easier.

It helps if they know what they are talking about but if they don't you can teach them.

With different forms of media what platforms do you prefer working with and why?

Radio. I worked with 2WS for a couple of years as their publicity manager. I think radio it is a great industry, it's an immediate medium. 2GB is fantastic for advertising something or promotion. You get so much response and if it's in print it's there forever and I like the media.

It pays to be on the right side of the press yes?

It's not always possible. I believe if you have an artist come in for an interview it pays to be nice to them and not to stick the knife into them. If you've done something that is wrong, and you try to hide from the media, sure you are going to be chased and vilified.

On to TV, what do you say is right and wrong about a very touchy subject, REALITY TV, how has that been good for your clients and what are some of the things that are wrong about REALITY TV?

It's not something I've done with my clients, it's just good entertainment. I can enjoy it as much as the next guy. Something like BIG BROTHER, is in the younger demographic,. My kids love it and we'd often sit and watch it . We're in the third year of it, it shows in the ratings , it's no secret, and as it gets more towards the ending and more people get eliminated , it builds and builds and builds.

Was the 60 MINUTES exposure good for you and did it result in any new clients?

What 60 MINUTES exposure? You mean NATASHA RYAN?


My opinion of that was, that all the media wanted the story, so we could have a full scale news conference where you cannot have any control over what is going to happen, and how it's going to turn out, whereas if we do a one on one interview, one, there is obviously a payment involved and two, it's a controlled environment and 60 minutes is a fantastic show, and they take the time, four or five days to tape the show and that's what you want , a good quality story, a 12 to 13 minute story and it's a show that whether it's in a good or bad light it will show them, the client, in the best possible way.

What do you think gives you the edge?

I return my phone calls and I try hard and that's all you can do. Keep doing what you're doing that's all I ever do and if you get any money from the success, I'm grateful for it. I'm just happy to be here.

What is a little know fact or misconception about MAX MARKSON the man?

My daughter always says we don't get the credit for the charity work we do, the fact that we raised over 23 million in the last 3 to 4 years is something that people don't fully comprehend. The amount of work effort and the fact that we underwrite them all, if something goes wrong, it doesn't cost the charity anything, it's only a positive outcome for he charity , that's something people probably don't know about me. My middle name is SAX. I'm a mad ice-cream and chocolate lover, just give me a bowl of ice cream. I'm lethal when it comes to a bowl of chocolate.

What do you do to relax, to tune out?

I love doing Karaoke. I'm a big karaoke fan.

You've got a bit of a voice for it too haven't you Max?


Brilliant. People will be chomping at the bit to listen to that. Final thoughts about the business. What is your advice to young people wanting to become successful or more successful in the media and public relations industry.

The best advice I can give is persistence, enthusiasm and focus. If you're faced with a problem or you're faced with an opportunity, approach it with persistence, enthusiasm and focus and you'll be successful a hundred percent of the time.

I'll take those words on board. May people have been saying the same thing and I have no reason to doubt you. Thank you very much.


Listen here

(Transcribed by David Steinhoff, Screenwrite & Photographer)


MarksonSparks! Online

Article / Promo: Show Me The Money says Media Man, by Greg Tingle

Article: The Great Aussie Promoters, by Greg Tingle

60 Minutes: Back from the dead (Max Markson made this deal happen)

ABC: The Sports Factor: Max Markson interview: 16th June 2000

ABC: The World Today: Max Markson and others speak about the election: 1st October 2001

Putting a new spin on an old sales pitch

Markson Sparks! Company Profile

Markson Sparks! commenced operation in 1982 and quickly established a reputation as a leading force in the publicity industry.

Markson Sparks! Publicity is a publicity company with a difference. In a unique manner, Markson Sparks! creates highly innovative campaigns, properly organise them, methodically implement them and thoroughly exploit them for maximum publicity - all with a full measure of enthusiasm and excitement. Markson Sparks! special ingredient is the ability to organise campaigns that capture public and media attention.

Markson Sparks! Personality Management opened in 1986, exclusively representing some of Australia's highest profile media personalities, celebrities and sports stars. Markson Sparks! is a major force in the Australian management area, assisting companies to attain their marketing goals by selecting the most appropriate celebrity or personality who will serve as a positive role model to effectively enhance the image of a product or company.

Markson Sparks! Event Management division was established in 1994 and has grown to become Australia's premier and most dynamic organisations, specialising in political, charity or cause-related fund-raising and celebrity testimonial functions. The majority of our events incorporate fund-raising auctions and raffles, utilising a celebrity auctioneer and MC. Markson Sparks! Event Management provides a comprehensive service, with absolutely everything taken care of from sourcing an appropriate venue, entertainment, auction items and speakers, to devising invitation lists, running orders and speech notes, arranging celebrity guests, taking RSVPs, coordinating table seatings, selling tickets, invoicing and collecting monies.

Markson Sparks! Talent Bank commenced operations in November 1995, representing celebrities, personalities and speakers from all over Australia and internationally. We have access to just about anyone in the world - politicians, former Prime Ministers and Presidents, former heads of state and the military, sporting legends and raconteurs, radio and TV personalities, environmental activists, captains of industry, Hollywood stars, international recording artists, satirists, humorists and entertainers.

Markson Sparks! Speakers Bureau is a full service speakers bureau, providing access to speakers in the area of business, the future, technology, politics ,economics, finance, science, media, motivation, marketing, communication, team building, women's forum, the environment, sport and entertainment.

MarksonSparks! Online


*Note: Media Man Australia organised and coordinated Max Markson, director of Markson Sparks! to be interviewed on Newstalk ZB Radio, New Zealand, about Bill Clinton's speaking engagement, on the 19th February 2006.

People and projects where Media Man Australia and Markson Sparks! collaborated:

Shane Warne

Kym Ilman

Sam Kekovich

Ita Buttrose

Richard Wilkins

Jon Stevens

Rick Price

Kate Cebrano


Markson Sparks!

Max Markson