Three of the four tenets of Apex founder Pat McNamara’s philosophy refer to the creation of a strong internal culture: create a great workplace environment; foster creativity not competition, and put people before profits. The fourth tenet is a natural outgrowth of the first three—give the best client service possible—and the firm’s success on that front can be judged by the results of a recent client survey, which found that 100 percent of respondents would recommend the firm to their colleagues and to other organizations.
McNamara founded Apex in 1998 and under her leadership the firm has grown to become one of the most respected midsize players in the Canadian public relations industry, with 33 people and an impressive roster of blue-chip clients that includes Bank of Montreal, Fuji, Levi Strauss & Co. and Tetra Pak (all of which have been with the firm for at least nine years), and Corona, Energizer, Jergens,
All client teams are led by a senior vice president or vice president with a minimum of 10 years business experience, and the senior team—average tenure more than six years—includes executive vice president Linda Andross, who oversees the corporate and technology groups (as well as serving on the board of the International Association of Business Communicators); Jo Langham, senior VP and head of the consumer group and a leader on the Kellogg’s, Tetra Pak, Yoplait and Toronto Hydro business; and vice presidents Ken Evans (corporate), Erin Farrell (consumer) and VP of human resources Leanne James.
Apex is a full-service, national firm, providing communications services in both English and French with expertise in consumer marketing, corporate communications and reputation management, business-to-business marketing (with a particular focus on small business), issues and crisis management and media and presentation training, with emerging social media capabilities that are now integrated into work for about half of the firm’s clients. But what sets Apex apart is a disdain for what McNamara calls “creativity for creativity’s sake” and an insistence that public relations should “deliver results that matter.” In other words, building awareness is not enough; PR must help clients persuade and engage key stakeholders to ultimately develop and build their businesses.
The past 12 months, despite the downturn, saw solid 8 percent growth, with many existing clients— Nike, Levi’s, Bank of Montreal and Samsung—expanding the agency’s role, and the technology practice in particular enjoying strong performance, up better than 30 percent. New clients included Glaxo SmithKline,
“APEX is very knowledgeable about the market, has creative ideas, great personal skills, a strong ability to strategize, be creative, and execute plans,” says Steve Vitale of