Are the tables finally turning? There was a small story in the news today that a Washington, D.C., public relations firm bought a small New York ad agency. It was equivalent to the proverbial "Man Bites Dog" story.
The p.r. firm is APCO Worldwide, which has about 30 offices around the world and has worked for such clients as Dow Corning and Procter and Gamble. The advertising agency is Strawberry Frog, which bills around $10-million and works for Procter and Gamble and alcoholic beverage marketer Beam, Inc.
This is quite a switch. Not long ago advertising agencies were buying up the biggest public relations firms right and left. Today the reason for a p.r. firm buying an ad agency is that, thanks to the Internet, the two disciplines are sort of merging. Public relations firms are being called on more and more to create media content for their clients, which advertising agencies do well.
For years, a different kind of "convergence" had been predicted. The thought was that the television set and the computer were going to merge into one piece of equipment, moving everyone back into the living room. While that still may happen, there's another merger going on. Today we're able to get the content we want in all sorts of media.
We can get television shows on Hulu; hear the TV shows "Face the Nation" and "60 Minutes"on the radio; see our favorite old TV shows and TV commercials on YouTube; get original shows on Comcast and soon on Netflix; and watch live radio shows being simulcast on the Internet. Everything's converging and you can advertise and do public relations everywhere, from Facebook to mobile phones around the world.
With so much content needed for so much media, it's only natural that there will be more and more joining of advertising and public relations.
There won't be less for creative people to do. There will be more.