Yesterday I had the pleasant opportunity to take a look at Waggener Edstrom, the second most profitable PR agency in the world. In keeping with my promise, and out of honest curiosity, I am traveling down this list of world shaping PR in an effort to essentially evaluate their online image. Today journey takes me to the website of APCO Worldwide, the third largest firm in the world with something over $97 million in 2007 fees and over 500 employees worldwide.
APCO Worldwide was founded in 1984 by its current President and CEO Margery Kraus. Since then Mrs. Kraus has transformed the agency from one local office in Washington to one with offices worldwide. Ms. Kraus has accomplishments far to numerous to list, and has obviously been one of the icons of the industry.
From this observer’s standpoint, it is quite obvious that the office in Washington is not there by chance. APCO and Ms. Kraus are synonymous with crisis management, policy, corporate law and politics. In the case of APCO PR especially, the company is a complete reflection of the expertise and interests of its founder. APCO is an “on the ground”, hard business support mechanism.
The Web As a Conduit
The APCO Worldwide PR website sends a message that this observer could not miss – “We are about business and if you need us call.” Make no mistake, this is a no frills site, with corporate governance written all over it. The design is pure Web 1.0 all be it crisp and as tailored as the striped suits Ms. Kraus’ associates wear. This is not all together a bad things by way of communicating the agencies image however. In the world of blue steel eyed businessmen, there is no room for frills and levity. I have experienced their coolness firsthand, and I am sure when trouble hits home to these types, APCO is on the tips of their tongues.
The other end of this hard chiseled picture is one of constraint though. The site does reflect a glimmer of outreach to the Internet world, but only that. it is effectively a list. There is no blog and the only reference to the Web has to be “hunted”.
We provide strategic counsel and implementation support for many of the world’s largest businesses by helping them optimize their Web presence; tell a better corporate story; “push” their messages out to target audiences; shape online issue debates; identify, attract and mobilize supporters and endorsers; and analyze the online environment to form strategy.
Icy cold as a scalpel, one paragraph that reads like; “If we want to, we will engage the Web too.” The one glimmer of hope I mentioned is their latest StudioAPCO, which is under construction. It occurs to me that this is a reluctant interjection of technology to at least compete with some of the other “power” broker agencies. I feel it is a half hearted and late attempt.
Value and Reality
Though many of us may feel that any company should have an identity and brand everywhere, particularly online, this is not strictly true just yet. Perhaps once most traditional business has made the transition to digital models, but the need by some business for hard nosed, and intimate contact is real. I think that it is safe to suggest to Ms. Kraus that her legacy should be to have made this transition for her company as well. Who am I to suggest to such a legendary figure? I expect old habits dye hard, and Ms. Kraus and her associates have been in the trenches a long time. Their is a new type of warfare however, and those who do not learn from the past…. Get a blog Ms. Kraus, and share the wisdom of the PR ages!