More Real-Time Signs That PR and Marketing Are Merging

A few weeks ago Access Intelligence announced its acquisition of four publications from Penton Media.  Yet aside from a brief note in B2B Media Business and FOLIO, another publication that Access Intelligence owns, there was nary a whisper.

I’ve searched and searched but have found just two traditional media articles, no blog posts and just a few flutters about the deal on Twitter.  I’d missed it too until Steve Goldstein mentioned it at the recent PR News Social Media Measurement Conference.

This is astonishing from my PR perspective. The holding company which owns a staple PR trade publication, PR News, has acquired four marketing publications including Chief Marketer – and few noticed.

“The marketing industry is experiencing great change with the growth of so many new channels for marketers to find and engage with their customers and prospects – beyond so-called traditional advertising,” says Kerry Smith, senior vice president at Access Intelligence and president, Red7 in an email interview.

It reinforces a trend that’s slowly but surely seeping into the mainstream:  PR is becoming central to marketing and marketing increasingly looks more like PR.

Case in point?  Virgin American just merged its marketing and PR departments and will retain Ogilvy Public Relations, it’s agency of record for the last several years, reports PRWeek.

D Simon Productions, which describes itself as a “media and business communications company” has earned trademark approval for the term PRketing™ from the U.S. Patent Office.

PR firms are acquiring ad agencies. Advertising trade pubs have added PR as a beat. Brands are increasingly integrating marketing and PR.

Acquisitions alone are not the only indication of the transient era of blurring media.  Media houses are increasingly striving to transform their business, with events playing a big role in the evolution. David Berlind, the chief content officer at TechWeb was a leading proponent of this concept at the Vocus User Conference as a panelist in 2010.

Access Intelligence is taking a similar path. “As a company we have been working hard – and with success – to transform our business from an ad-centric model to an e-centric model, with the ‘e’ representing emedia and events,” writes Smith.  “Today the majority of our revenues are derived from these two areas. Penton has undertaken a similar transformation, and the marketing brands that joining our company have been successful in creating a very robust business around emedia and events.”

From my vantage point as a longtime PR professional, this acquisition is a smart move for Access Intelligence and another indication that lines between PR and marketing are growing so blurred that they arguably don’t exist.  I also believe this is good news for the socially-engaged PR professional.

Need more proof?  Check out this interview with the Bulldog Reporter at PRSA’s International Conference in San Francisco.

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