The former head of the Kuala Lumpur office of APCO Worldwide, Paul Stadlen, is at the center of a scandal sweeping through Malaysia. Reports recently surfaced suggesting that the PR expert’s newest client is none other than the Prime Minister.
Government officials want the truth of Stadlen’s relationship with the Prime Minister. But, Prime Minister Razak’s only comment to date is:
“For your information… Paul Stadlen (Gregory) is a permanent resident (PR) in Malaysia… he is free to enter and leave this country for working purposes without having to own a working permit…”
In spite of this reply, the Prime Minister did not clarify what role Stadlen plays, if any.
But, this isn’t the first time the media connected APCO Worldwide with a Malaysian scandal. In fact, it is also not the first time the scandal has involved a relationship with this Prime Minister. In 2010, the firm faced allegations about the creation of campaigns to better the image of the Malaysian government.
Opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, urged the Prime Minister to reconsider his ties to the firm due to their alleged prior involvement with Israelis. He stated that:
“The Government should cease its relationship with APCO immediately and a Royal Commission of Inquiry be formed to investigate the scandal of APCO’s involvement in Malaysia, which had affected national security and integrity.”
Ibrahim also stated that APCO had signed a deal in August 2009 to create a better image of the Malaysian government and its current administration. He also claimed that Doron Bergerbest-Eilon, APCO’s international advisor, once served as a major-general security chief in the Israeli army. For this reason, he believed the firm posed a serious threat to the security of the country.
Despite the bad press in Malaysia, APCO operations continue to thrive in the rest of the world. APCO Worldwide is an independent firm, which belongs to the WPP Group – one of the largest multinational corporations in the world. The company runs offices in 35 major cities around the globe; including London, Chicago and Paris.
Most PR firms center their attention on gaining corporate clients. APCO instead focuses on handling sensitive political and crisis management issues. Many of APCO’s leaders formerly worked as politicians, government officials, and ambassadors. Even so, the PR firm has done work for companies as well; including eBay, Sprint and IKEA.
Founded in 1984 by Margery Kraus, the company grew rapidly into the PR giant it is today. In fact, it is currently the second largest privately owned PR firm in America, and one of the largest in the world. Kraus still does work in the field and leads the firm’s 600 employees as CEO.
In 2015, the PR firm won several awards, showing its formidable reputation and high quality service. The awards included “Agency Elite Awards 2015: Digital/Social Media” from PR News and “Top Women-Owned Businesses 2015” from Washington Business Journal.
It is no wonder then, that in spite of all the allegations thrown at the company, it continues to thrive and grow. APCO can expect to weather the storms in Malaysia, and live to tell the tale – or keep the secret…