APCO Worldwide

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APCO Worldwide
IndustryPublic Relations
HeadquartersWashington, DC; Brussels; Hong Kong
Key people
Margery Kraus, founder and executive chairman; Brad Staples, CEO
Revenue$119.9 million (2016)[1]
Number of employees

APCO Worldwide is an independent global public affairs and strategic communications consultancy. With more than 600 employees in 35 worldwide locations, it is also the second largest independently owned PR firm in the United States.[2][3] Headquartered in Washington, D.C., APCO was founded in 1984 by Margery Kraus, who is now the firm's Executive Chairman.[4]

Most public relations firms focus on corporate communications, but APCO is usually hired to handle sensitive political and crisis management issues. Many APCO executives are former prominent government officials, politicians and ambassadors. APCO's clientele consists of multi-national corporations, governments, politicians, 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.[5] 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.[6] The firm has been described by Public Relations media outlet Everything-PR as "one of the world's most powerful PR firms."[7]

In 2016, Kraus stepped down from her role as CEO, for the role to be filled by Brad Staples, who is a member of the London office.[8] When speaking to PR Week, Staples indicated that APCO was looking to create a 'global account leadership initiative', whereby global accounts were being run by senior members of the team based in Europe, rather than the USA.[9]

In February 2020, APCO Worldwide announced an agreement to a partnership with Erie Street, a Chicago-based advisory firm. APCO declined to disclose financial terms but has confirmed that the partnership will not affect ownership or staffic at either firm.[10]

Notable work[edit]

APCO handled the crisis for Merck & Co's withdrawal of Vioxx from the market.[11] Kazakhstan's president, Nursultan Nazarbayev hired APCO to extricate himself from a four-year-long dispute with his former son-in-law Rakhat Aliyev.[12]

WorldCom hired APCO Worldwide to handle its political PR surrounding the media frenzy regarding its disclosure that £2.4bn in expenses had been falsely reported in its financial results in 2002.[13]

APCO stepped into prominence in India when it won the contract to promote and rebrand the Gujarat Global Investors' Summit, the showpiece investment meeting of the then chief minister and current prime minister, Narendra Modi as "Vibrant Gujarat".[14]

APCO Worldwide is the lead management agency for the American Pavilion at the Astana Expo 2017.[15] The USA Pavilion was by all measures a success and had received nearly a half million visitors.[16] The US Kazakhstan Business Association recognized Margery Kraus for taking on the pavilion management for Astana EXPO 2017.[17]


APCO's Maggie Brown received the CleanTech Alliance Chairman’s Award in 2017.[18]


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[19] which identified secondhand smoke as a Group A human carcinogen.[20][21] 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."[22] 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. To conceal this relationship, TASSC broadened their focus to question other scientific topics, notable among them global warming.[23]


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.[24] 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.[25]

HP controversy[edit]

In 2010, APCO was involved in the controversial recommendation to fire Mark Hurd, the CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HP).[26] 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.[27]


  1. ^ "APCO Worldwide: PRWeek Global Agency Business Report 2016".
  2. ^ "Top PR Firm Rankings | Public Relations Agency Rankings by O'Dwyer's Public Relations News". Odwyerpr.com.
  3. ^ "Hard facts on Europe's biggest lobbyists revealed for the first time". LobbyFacts.eu.
  4. ^ APCO Worldwide Inc. "Company profile from Hoover's". Hoover's.
  5. ^ "Statement Of James W. Jones – Center for Professional Responsibility". Abanet.org.
  6. ^ "GREY GLOBAL GROUP INC – 8-K – 20040928 – FORM". Yahoo.brand.edgar-online.com. Archived from the original on March 9, 2012.
  7. ^ "APCO Worldwide's Site Better Than a Billboard? Everything PR". July 2, 2009.
  8. ^ "PRWeek Global Agency Business Report 2016".
  9. ^ "APCO Worldwide: PRWeek Global Agency Business Report 2016". PR Week. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
  10. ^ Moore, Thomas. "APCO Worldwide partners with consultancy Erie Street". www.prweek.com. Retrieved February 25, 2020.
  11. ^ "HP Advisor APCO Built Crisis Unit Handling WorldCom, Vioxx". Bloomberg Business. August 11, 2010.
  12. ^ "Feud in Kazakh President's Family Spills in U.S." The New York Times. May 29, 2011.
  13. ^ "Troubled WorldCom hires APCO for crisis comms job". PR Week. July 19, 2001.
  14. ^ "Apco to market Vibrant Gujarat". The Times of India. October 15, 2009.
  15. ^ "APCO Worldwide to be Responsible for American EXPO 2017 Pavilion". The Astana Times.
  16. ^ "USA Pavilion: The Source of Infinite Energy". usapavilion2017.
  17. ^ "USKZBA Congratulates Expo 2017 U.S.A. Pavilion Implementing Partner". Archived from the original on April 20, 2017. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  18. ^ "APCO Worldwide Honored with CleanTech Alliance Chairman's Award". Archived from the original on November 17, 2017. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  19. ^ "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. Archived from the original on June 30, 2010. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
  20. ^ Ong, EK; Glantz, SA (November 2001). "Constructing "Sound Science" and "Good Epidemiology": Tobacco, Lawyers, and Public Relations Firms". American Journal of Public Health. 91 (11): 1749–57. doi:10.2105/ajph.91.11.1749. PMC 1446868. PMID 11684593.
  21. ^ "APCO Associates, "Proposed Plan for the Public Launching of TASSC"". Philip Morris, Bates no. 2024233709/3717. September 1993.
  22. ^ "The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, Untitled Information Sheet Describing TASSC, Bates no. 2046989061" (PDF).
  23. ^ Monbiot, George (September 19, 2006). "The Denial Industry". The Guardian. London. Retrieved August 11, 2010.
  24. ^ "Parliament: Anwar claims APCO was in M'sia before 1Malaysia concept was announced, The Star, 30 March 2010". Thestar.com.my. Archived from the original on April 2, 2010. Retrieved September 28, 2018.
  25. ^ Ahmad, Razak (April 22, 2010). "Malaysia parliament votes to censure Anwar, Reuters, 22 Apr 2010". In.reuters.com.
  26. ^ "HP Adviser APCO Built Crisis Unit Handling WorldCom, Vioxx". BusinessWeek. August 11, 2010.
  27. ^ Vance, Ashlee (August 16, 2010). "Despite H.P.'s Efforts, Mark Hurd Spectacle Goes On". The New York Times.

External links[edit]