Recently, I received a call from someone I hadn’t heard from in more than 20 years. The caller and I, along with several others, had shared a house in Phoenix in the early 1980s.

A true salesman by nature, he was the classic definition of an underachiever — terrifically smart with a smooth delivery — but he had bounced aimlessly from career to career, never remaining in one place long enough to establish roots.

Although he never married, he informed me during our brief phone reunion that he had just completed his online certification to become a marriage counselor.

For some reason, I likened his latest venture to how accounting firms used to oversee marketing or media relations. They often threw the responsibilities on the lap of a partner, whose experience in those matters often went little beyond reading AdAge or attending a one-day seminar.

But like other fast-rising niches, this is not your father’s accounting firm.

For evidence, I’ll simply point to the growth of organizations such as the Association for Accounting Marketing, or the number of firms that have finally vaulted into the 21st century and hired a director of marketing.

However, I read last week that the California firm of Armanino McKenna had gone one step further by establishing a new niche for that firm in media consulting.

The CPA and business advisory concern has partnered with a former newspaper publisher to help lead the unit and the new entity will offer advice to media and communications companies on such issues as brand development, marketing, advertising, public relations, media relations and even crisis management.

If I sound somewhat shocked, it’s only because traditionally, accounting has stood helplessly in the back of the line among professions in its ability, or, more accurately, its inability, to market and publicize itself, let alone offer expertise to others.

But that’s obviously changing and the profession can only benefit in the end.

It’s unfortunate that Arthur Andersen did not have such a unit, or seek counsel in those matters some five years ago, when it was embroiled in what turned out to be a futile fight to save it from extinction.
I’m fairly confident the profession’s growing march into media consulting will be around a lot longer than my former roommate’s career in dispensing marital advice.

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