Editorial: Merging PR and advertising

If Chime Communications buys HHCL and Partners it will not be the first time a PR consultancy has owned an advertising agency, but it would be an unusual occurrence. Normally it is ad agency groups which, because of their size, end up as the senior partners in such deals. But there is no logical reason why this set-up cannot be reversed.

If Chime Communications buys HHCL and Partners it will not be the

first time a PR consultancy has owned an advertising agency, but it

would be an unusual occurrence. Normally it is ad agency groups which,

because of their size, end up as the senior partners in such deals. But

there is no logical reason why this set-up cannot be reversed.



PR arguably has more clout than advertising in the client boardroom

because of its ability to reach non-consumer audiences such as the City,

legislators, pressure groups, and staff. And even in marketing

communications, where PR has historically played second fiddle,

enlightened marketers now recognise the best results are achieved

through a combination of above and below the line techniques.



Many ad agencies have responded by adding on below the line

divisions.



But, in most cases the result is an agency offering advertising

solutions with a few bolt-on extras, rather than a rounded

communications company.



Tim Bell’s ad pedigree is as blue-chip as his PR background and, if the

HHCL deal goes ahead, he will have found a highly regarded advertising

partner of roughly equal size. The real test - and this would be an

exceptional achievement - will be to merge the two into a seamless

communications offering without diluting either.



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