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Are boundaries between PR and ad agencies crossing over?

23rd November 2018

Sir Martin Sorrell has shared his opinions on the blurred lines he perceives between what PR and ad agencies do in digital media. He said S4 Capital was focused on content, first-party data and digital media buying and planning, the three areas he believes will drive future growth in marcoms, and suggested that the company might be interested in acquiring a small to medium-sized PR agency if it has the right social content capabilities.
Sorrell said: “If you look at things we’re interested in at S4 Capital, like content, first-party data and digital media planning and buying, I think the nature of public relations is changing and in a sense becoming much more targeted and much more measurable. There is nothing on the agenda at the moment. But there are maybe companies that have developed social content programmes that would be of interest to us. This would tend to be on the small to medium-size level and SJR at WPP, going back to my previous experience, is the sort of company that I think of. People who run public relations agencies have sought to broaden their base, and the boundaries between advertising and public relations agencies have become increasingly blurred. There are some companies that say they are public relations agencies but are mushrooming into other areas. I think public relations isn’t necessarily the best descriptor of what public relations agencies do. They are increasingly trying to do what advertising agencies are trying to do in the digital area. We are focused on where we think the growth is. The three growth areas I’ve identified so far, and I may have missed some, are content, first-party data and digital media planning and buying. We’re focused on digital and we will see how that develops over time. We are starting on a small base and will see where we go from here.”

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