Hitting the MARC Featured

8:42am EDT November 26, 2002
At MARC USA, people were having a hard time communicating with each other.

It's not difficult to understand why, given the public relations and ad agency's rapid growth in the late 1990s. In a few years, MARC had created a national presence by acquiring agencies in Chicago, Dallas and a half dozen other cities.

The purchases brought expertise, new markets and more diverse creativity, but it also fragmented the organization. Of 500 MARC employees, 300 had come to the agency through acquisitions.

"The agencies were operating relatively autonomously," says Lee Brody, vice president and director of corporate communications for MARC.

In January 2001, all of the agencies took on the MARC USA name, but the agency knew that integrating all of its sites into a single team under the MARC flag and having the ability to tap into the expertise and experience employees at all the offices was critical to its success.

MARC's initial effort was to tie the agencies together through a corporate intranet it dubbed I-MARC, which provided general information about the agency and a database of employees. But technological hurdles -- users needed an ID and password to access the site, for instance -- kept employees from visiting the site regularly and going deeply into it to find the tools and utilities available.

Deb Pratt, vice president and information technology director, set to work with the help of some of the agency's creative people to make the site utilitarian and easy to use.

MARC developed a site with a page for each employee that provides biographical information, descriptions of project work and a resume of their expertise. Employees can customize their page to select local, national or industry news of interest to them, and can access corporate materials such as human resources and benefits information.

The site also contains examples of creative work done for clients in every city so employees in various markets can access them for ideas or background. It even has records of pitches that didn't land an account. A corporate extranet allows employees to conduct Web conferences, making it easier for team members from different cities to work on a single project.

While most of the features and information resided on the site from the start, the revised version made them easier to find and use.

Says Pratt: "They were all there in the first phase, but nobody could find them." How to reach: MARC USA, www.marc-usa.com