EDITORIAL: Focusing on holding-company integration ignores PR's potential as marketing leader

The following is a point/counterpoint exchange with my colleague from across the page:

The following is a point/counterpoint exchange with my colleague from across the page:

Paul Holmes cites a report that claims marketers prefer combining their ad agencies with "unrelated" PR firms, rather than work with different brands that are part of the same holding company. He makes a good case, but I'm not sure it bodes well for the future of PR. It is almost too easy to generalize about the relative advantages or disadvantages of integrating programs with single holding companies. Like Frankenstein's monster, critics of the monoliths will lumber in and issue a generic "Holding company bad," as if John Wren, David Bell, and Martin Sorrell are villagers bent on maintaining the big budgets of advertising at the expense of the simpleminded PR firms and other "below-the-line" disciplines. Sure, advertising gets the big budgets. Call me Pollyanna (and I know you will, Paul), but I'd like to believe that the ideals holding companies espouse about marketing-agnostic approaches might actually be happening, at least for some clients. "If we are, and we should be, interested in what is right for the brand and corporation, we are and have to be "Switzerland" about what we're offering up," says Tom Harrison, head of Omnicom's Diversified Agency Services. OK, he would say that. But the underlying attitude that PR firms within parent companies will be at the mercy of their marketing counterparts perpetuates the positioning of PR as advertising's inferior cousin, instead of contributing to its ultimate demise. Holding-company agencies and independents alike benefit from seeing real examples of PR asserting its role in the marketing mix. Educating clients to be better consumers is an important way to achieve that. Let's not focus on whether they are holding-company owned accounts right now, and instead find great examples of where PR truly leads the strategy (yes, that is an invitation to pitch us). PRWeek is always open to readers' input We also want to know what you think about us. PRWeek's Readership Survey is underway, providing our subscribers with an opportunity to tell us what they do and do not value in our coverage, what sections they find most useful, and what kinds of areas we could be reporting on more often. Any additional comments are always welcome, and not only within the confines of this survey. I am constantly amazed at the level of detailed critique about the magazine's coverage that readers will launch into when I meet them face-to-face. But there is no need to wait for that opportunity. As a publication, we have evolved significantly in the past five years, increasing our relevance to our corporate readership, and focusing far more on the business issues facing agencies. Our continuing value depends on a constant dialogue with our readers, as any PR professional should realize. ----- To take the readership survey, log on to www.prweek.com and click on any story to reach the survey link. If you have any questions or problems, please contact letters@prweek.com.

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