As watchdog groups pressure the PR industry to be more transparent, and the news media takes a long hard look at its own standards and practices, those of us charged with marketing communications soon may have to embrace marketing versus communications. Stuart Elliott, advertising columnist for The New York Times, today examines the increasing commercialization of music.

Is this a PR function or a marketing function? Should PR practitioners follow the lead of some of the larger agencies to create strategic partnerships with product placement companies? Will paid product placement in entertainment programming supplant “free” product placement in news programming?

From a PR perspective – and Stuart’s story is proof — the teaming of stars with commercial products is nothing new and often makes news in and of itself. This is where the PR person’s core competencies come in to play. (I remember working on the news conferences featuring the Gloved One and Sir Elton for Pepsi and Citibank, respectively.)

But this is different. We’re talking about more fully integrating the commercial product with the celebrity (and his or her work), not just an appearance by the star in a short-lived ad campaign (like Paris and Carl’s in the posting below).