Bruce Rubin is a public relations maven. The University of Miami graduate has worked in PR for more than 38 years and has become one of the country’s top crisis management practitioners.
“He has established a reputation for being the go-to person for crisis communication both locally and nationally,” said Michelle Palomino, a board member of the Miami chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.
Rubin developed the “fast-action” crisis management program for which he is known: In fields with crisis potential, each of his clients is assigned a senior member of the firm who responds immediately in case of emergencies.
“It’s a 24/7 on-call system,” Rubin said. “We pay attention to the matter right then and there. It’s like an emergency room, we make decisions based on our experience.”
His firm, rbb Public Relations, is one of the largest firms in Miami and is nationally recognized for its work with local and national clients.
“Carnival Cruise Lines, when [their ship] got disabled, they called Bruce,” said Bob Ross, a PR professional and past president of PRSA. “Miami Marlins on its image problems? They called Bruce.” So did The Miami Herald after it fired columnist Jim DeFede, and developer Armando Codina when he sold his company, Ross said.
Ross nominated Rubin for the Bill Adams Lifetime Achievement Award, given by the Public Relations Society of America, Miami Chapter. The award honors a current or retired member of the PRSA who has demonstrated dedication toward advancing the profession. In addition, the winner represents the ethical characteristics exemplified by the career of Bill Adams, a former associate professor of advertising and public relations at Florida International University and longtime supporter and member of the PRSA. Adams died in 2003.
Rubin, who won the award this fall, “embodies what this award represents,” said Palomino, who was this year’s chair of the awards committee. “He has established an amazing reputation.”
Despite his status today as one of the top counselors in crisis management, Rubin got into public relations by accident. He graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Miami in 1969 and went on to work as a reporter for The Miami News, which was the dominant evening newspaper in the area at the time. The salary as a reporter was not high, so he accepted a job offer from the public relations firm Levitt PR Group.
“I learned the craft there,” Rubin said. “I learned to write at school, but public relations, I learned it there.”
Levitt PR specialized in real estate cases. In 1975, sales started to decrease and Rubin was let go.
“Naively, more than anything else, I decided to start my own firm,” Rubin said.
According to Marcia Gomez, co-chair of this year’s awards luncheon, Rubin is also credited with being responsible for “a big part of the growth, not only of public relations in Miami, but public relations in general.”
The fact that the firm has such prominent clients and is a leader in the crisis communications field has helped shed a light on the high level of talent available in South Florida.
“You don't always have to look for and reach into New York for talent. Talent can be anywhere,” Rubin says.