To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Planned Television Arts (PTA) has undergone a name change to Media Connect, adopted a new logo, and—for the first time—is taking a booth at BEA to let the world know that this is not your old boss’s PTA. Known to book publicists everywhere for decades, the company is “changing with the times,” v-p and chief marketing officer Brian Feinblum, who has been with the company for 13 years, tells Show Daily.
Feinblum explains that although PTA staff never missed a BEA (or an ABA!), it wasn’t until now that the need for a booth presented itself. “The industry is there,” he says, and notes that the company’s client base is changing. Rather than the major publishing housing hiring them, more authors—many from nontraditional publishing outlets—are hiring them directly. At Media Connect’s booth (3879), those in need of publicity can enter a raffle to win an 18-city radio tour or an online media campaign.
More than just the client base has changed, of course. In 1962, when PTA was born, the name “Planned Television Arts” made a lot of sense. TV was only just emerging as king of all media. There was no such thing as cable TV, the Internet, tablets, Facebook, or cell phones on which to tweet. An appearance on a major show such as The Mike Douglas Show or The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (Carson also debuted in 1962) all but guaranteed to catapult a book onto bestseller lists. Now an individual media outlet has a decreased level of influence. Rather, “today,” managing director David Hahn adds, “media begets media.”
The all-media, across-all-formats approach is not new to the team. They have long been promoting for the 21st century with everything from radio tours, TV satellite tours, road tours, print exposure, and online media campaigns with blogging, social network, and Web site components. The new name, Media Connect, reflects what the company does now, which is ever expanding to find more ways to connect authors with media.
The name change is just a piece of the new branding for Media Connect. Hahn notes that they are “doing everything we can with branding.” The 50th anniversary and the name change give the company an opportunity to pick up new business in new ways. “We’re looking at global PR because it’s easier to work global press, we’re doing more Skype tours, and we are refining and getting better and better at online offerings,” he adds. Media outlets may shift, but Hahn stresses that “at the heart of it is content. What can your author be known for? It’s about building the author’s work and getting three or four key ideas out to the media.”
Though much has changed in the half-century since the company was formed, the senior management has not. Feinblum is the newest with 13 years under his belt, while Rick Frishman, now a consultant to the company, has been affiliated with them for 35 years—the longest tenure of the team. David Hahn has been managing director for 26 years. The other four on the management team, Paul Schwartz, Kristin Clifford, Deborah Kohan, and Sandy Trupp, have 20, 18, 18, and 15 years, respectively.
PTA was founded by Mike Levine in 1962. In 1976, Frishman, after working for popular radio talk-show host Barry Farber, joined the company. Later, in 1992, he bought the company from Levine and presided over dramatic growth in the 1990s and 2000s, when he served as president. Two decades ago, Finn Partners, a Ruder Finn Group company, became its parent company.