APCO Worldwide

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APCO Worldwide
Industry Public Relations
Founded 1984
Headquarters Washington, D.C.; Brussels; Hong Kong
Key people
Margery Kraus, founder & CEO
Number of employees
Website http://www.apcoworldwide.com/

APCO Worldwide is an independent communications consultancy. With more than 600 employees in 29 worldwide locations, it is the second largest independently owned PR firm in the United States.[1] Headquartered in Washington, D.C., APCO was founded in 1984 by Margery Kraus, who is now the firm’s global CEO.[2]

Most public relations firms focus on corporate communications, but APCO is usually hired to handle sensitive political issues. Many APCO executives are former prominent government officials. APCO’s clientele consists of multi-national corporations, governments, associations and nonprofit organizations.


Margery Kraus founded APCO Associates in 1984 as a subsidiary to Arnold & Porter, one of Washington's largest law firms, and from where APCO’s name is derived.[3] Grey Global Group, a New York based global advertising and marketing agency, purchased majority ownership of APCO in 1991 from Arnold & Porter. On September 28, 2004, APCO announced its independent buyout from Grey Global and has thus become one of the largest privately owned public relations firms in the world.[4]


The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition controversy[edit]

The "Sound Science Coalition" (TASSC) was created in 1993 by Phillip Morris and APCO in response to a 1992 United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report[5] which identified secondhand smoke as a Group A human carcinogen.[6] TASSC's links to the tobacco industry were minimized as part of APCO's strategy for TASSC to appear to be an independent national grassroots coalition.[6] To conceal this relationship, TASSC broadened their focus to question other scientific topics, notable among them global warming.[7][8]


On March 30, 2010, Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim alleged in the Malaysian parliament (the Dewan Rakyat) that the 1Malaysia concept was mirrored after “One Israel” concept and designed by Mindteams Sdn Bhd, a branch in Malaysia of APCO Worldwide. He alleged that APCO also created the One Israel concept in 1999 for then Israeli's Prime Minister Ehud Barak.[9] Both APCO and the Barisan Nasional government stated that Anwar's allegation was untrue. Malaysian lawmakers have tabled a motion to censure Anwar for misleading the Parliament over his 1Malaysia-One Israel allegations which was passed by the Parliament on April 22, 2010.[10]

HP controversy[edit]

In 2010, APCO was involved in the controversial recommendation to fire Mark Hurd, the CEO of HP.[11] Kent Jarrell, a senior vice president, wrote a mock news story which he showed to HP's board. During this same meeting, he contemplated that HP would negatively be affected by bad press of its CEO being involved in an inappropriate relationship with an ex-soft porn actress, Jodie Fisher.[12]


  1. ^ "Top PR Firm Rankings | Public Relations Agency Rankings by O'Dwyer's Public Relations News". Odwyerpr.com. 
  2. ^ APCO Worldwide Inc. (21 October 2010). "Company profile from Hoover's". Hoover's. 
  3. ^ "Statement Of James W. Jones – Center for Professional Responsibility". Abanet.org. 
  4. ^ "GREY GLOBAL GROUP INC – 8-K – 20040928 – FORM". Yahoo.brand.edgar-online.com. 
  5. ^ "US Environmental Protection Agency, "Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking (Also Known as Exposure to Secondhand Smoke or Environmental Tobacco Smoke ETS)"". Cfpub2.epa.gov. 
  6. ^ a b "Bisa K. Ong, MD MS, and Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, "Constructing "Sound Science" and "Good Epidemiology": Tobacco, Lawyers, and Public Relations Firms", American Journal of Public Health, November 2001, Vol 91, No. 11 Its stated objectives were to: 1) discredit the EPA report; 2) fight anti-smoking legislation; 3) proactively pass legislation favorable to the tobacco industry. The primary objectives of the APCO Associates media plan for TASSC were to "Establish TASSC as a credible source for reporters when questioning the validity of scientific studies" and to "Encourage the public to question – from the grassroots up – the validity of scientific studies".http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/eqa35e00/pdf APCO Associates, "Proposed Plan for the Public Launching of TASSC", September 1993, Philip Morris, Bates no. 2024233709/3717 TASSC developed local coalitions to influence media, legislators, and the public, and recruited scientists and researchers to support Philip Morris's position. Nonetheless, TASSC described itself as "a not-for-profit coalition advocating the use of sound science in public policy decision making."[http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/zyh09e00/pdf The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, Untitled Information Sheet Describing TASSC, Bates no. 2046989061]" (PDF). 
  7. ^ George Monbiot, "Mad Science", Interview by Brooke Gladstone, July 6, 2007, On the Media, WNYC, NPR Public Media
  8. ^ Monbiot, George (September 19, 2006). "The Denial Industry". The Guardian (London). Retrieved August 11, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Parliament: Anwar claims APCO was in M’sia before 1Malaysia concept was announced, The Star, 30 March 2010". Thestar.com.my. 
  10. ^ Ahmad, Razak (April 22, 2010). "Malaysia parliament votes to censure Anwar, Reuters, 22 Apr 2010". In.reuters.com. 
  11. ^ "HP Adviser APCO Built Crisis Unit Handling WorldCom, Vioxx". BusinessWeek. August 11, 2010. 
  12. ^ Vance, Ashlee (August 16, 2010). "Despite H.P.'s Efforts, Mark Hurd Spectacle Goes On". The New York Times. 

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