Business News

PCMA Announces a Slew of Acquisitions to Mixed Reaction

Skift Take

As the industry continues to feel the effects of the Covid pandemic, several associations that could benefit from deeper pockets have been acquired by PCMA.

PCMA announced on Monday the acquisition of the Event Leadership Institute (ELI) and the Event Marketing Association (EMA).

The announcements came during the first day of Convening Leaders 2023. PCMA’s flagship event attracted 3,300 to Columbus, Ohio.

“As of today, we are only moving forward — blazing a trail forward with and for the global business events community. We will innovate. We will take risks. We will get outside our comfort zone. And we will always do it for our audiences,” said Sherrif Karamat, president and CEO of PCMA and CEMA.

PCMA acquired the Corporate Event Marketing Association (CEMA) in November 2020. Since then, CEMA has been a subsidiary of PCMA, and its 800 CEMA members have now folded into PCMA.

In October 2022, during IMEX America, CEMA executive director Kimberley Gishler and director of programming and member services Olga Rosenbrook resigned.

Mixed Reaction

Some reacted to this news with skepticism, questioning whether members of the acquired organizations would see becoming PCMA members as beneficial. “Interesting to see PCMA on such a buying spree especially considering CEMA was an acquisition last year. All I can say is I hope Sherrif Karamat and the PCMA team maintain the spirit of those organizations. If we felt PCMA met our needs, we would have joined in the first place. We have not heard much out of CEMA in ages which is a super worrying indication about what the future holds,” said Nicola Kastner, founder of The Event Strategist.

Carrie Davenport, the founder of the Association for Women in Events (AWE), hopes PCMA gives the organizations it is joining the attention they need to thrive. Although she is happy for them, she wishes the acquisitions included AWE. In April 2020, thick in the throes of the Covid pandemic, the organization was forced to disbanded as a 501c3. “We would have embraced an acquisition,” she said. 

The idea of PCMA acquiring an organization like AWE — focused on women — was especially poignant as five men — and not one woman — looked down from the stage discussing the acquisitions.

Leadership Through Education

Education has historically been a core focus for PCMA. Acquiring the ELI, that focuses primarily on online education, supports PCMAs Strategic Plan. ELI’s founder, Howard Givner, joins PCMA immediately as senior vice president of knowledge and innovation. 

“Change and uncertainty create enormous opportunities for us to prove our value as strategic and trusted advisors. And I’ve never been more excited about the future of our industry and what ELI can accomplish as part of the PCMA family of brands,” said Givner.

PCMA members will immediately gain access to ELI’s content library. In the coming weeks, PCMA will integrate ELI’s 800 existing members, subscribers, and business partners into PCMA.

Extending International Focus

PCMA has also acquired the UK-based Event Marketing Association (EMA). Similar to CEMA, the organization focused on a community of more than 800 in-house corporate event professionals.

“EMA was founded back in 2013 exclusively for the in-house UK corporate event profs. We’ve grown our membership from a handful of like-minded individuals to currently just under 1,000 members across the UK, achieving a lot along that journey, through knowledge exchange and collaboration across our membership, whilst also representing them within the wider industry,” said EMA Chair Richard Waddington. “The opportunity of merging into PCMA and joining forces with CEMA to grow the representation and voice of the corporate internationally is an opportunity for EMA not to be missed.”

Strategic Partnerships

PCMA announced two further partnerships. The first is with the American Geophysical Union (AGU), a thought leader on climate change impact and innovation, focusing on sustainability. The second is with the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals (NCBMP), focusing on inclusivity.

It also reinforced its partnership with Destinations International (DI) around the upcoming Business Events Industry Week. The event will take place in Washington, DC, with the support of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), the AMC Institute (AMCI), the Events Industry Council (EIC), and NCBMP.

Photo credit: PCMA CEO and President Sherrif Karamat, Randy Fiser of AGU, Jason Dunn of NCBMP, Don Welsh of DI, and Howard Givner of ELI.