PR must prove its might as integration takes hold

Over the past few months, a number of developments in the PR and advertising space have strengthened the theory that marketing practices will continue to become more integrated.

Over the past few months, a number of developments in the PR and advertising space have strengthened the theory that marketing practices will continue to become more integrated.

Ad agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky recently launched its own PR division run by Rob Gould, formerly of Porter Novelli. In June, MWW Group teamed up with Deutsch to launch MWW Group@Deutsch, whereby MWW will become Deutsch's preferred partner for PR, and MWW will look to Deutsch for advertising, interactive, media services, and marketing work. And Omnicom Group in April launched word-of-mouth firm Zócalo Group, led by Paul Rand, ex-global chief development and innovation officer at Ketchum.

Clients want a 360-degree approach, and these actions are a clear indication that marketers are getting the message. The rising significance with which marketers are identifying PR and the rapid development of new media make such expansions a natural evolution of what a modern agency should - and will - become.

Naturally, holding companies are trying to bundle disciplines in an easy-to-digest package for clients, and PR firms are opportunistically sensing that uncertainty in the environment - where corporate partners are placing a premium on communicators - can propel a land grab.

Silos will likely always exist, but smart clients will appreciate a greater dialogue among their agencies. The formation of newly styled partnerships will lead to a more seamless integration.

But while taking advantage of a shifting environment is a smart move - and helps prove to clients that PR pros have business acumen - cross pollination runs the potential of agencies proving to be jacks of all trades, but masters of none. First and foremost, PR must ensure that it continues to prove its relevance to corporations uneasy about the future of marketing.

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