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Here's some overdue good news. On Friday, the Commerce Department reported the U.S. economy grew 3.2% in the first quarter of the year, marking the third straight quarter of growth. While the latest gain was various described as “muted” and “modest,” the numbers are a world of improvement compared with the same period last year, at the bottom of the recession, when the U.S. economy shrank 6.4%. Another indication of the recovery? A wave of mergers and acquisitions. Last week, Hewlett-Packard Co. announced plans to buy Palm Inc. in a deal valued at approximately $1.2 billion; United Airlines is expected on Monday to announce its merger deal with Continental Airlines to create the world's largest airline. On this page, back in June 2001, writing about another economic downturn—the dot-com bubble—I wrote this: “... we'll inevitably begin to see stronger, better-financed survivors and traditional businesses acquire those left standing. How should these buyers manage this maneuver? Specifically, how can they enhance the acquired brand?” While those questions are as applicable now as they were then, what's new, and adding complexity, is today's fractured media landscape. (For an in-depth analysis of media outlets, see our annual Media Power 50 report in this issue, starting on page 16.) Another difference from 2001 is the social media tsunami. As David Williams, chairman-CEO of customer relationship agency Merkle, said in his keynote at the Forrester Marketing Forum in Los Angeles last month: “The advancing use of technology by consumers and organizations is bringing about fundamental changes in the way consumer decision-making is evolving.” (Our coverage of the Forrester event starts on Page 3.) To help understand how marketers are adapting their strategies, organizations and technologies, BtoB will increasingly conduct its own original research. For example, see page 1 in this issue for some top-line results from our “B2B Marketer Skills Snapshot Survey.” We'll be holding a free webcast on this survey on June 3; register at www.btobonline.com/webcasts. ————— This month marks my 10th year as editor of BtoB. For me, it's been a decade of listening and asking questions, trying to understand how marketing is an essential—or should be an essential—part of business strategy. I'm proud that during this time, BtoB's brand has grown dramatically (in print, online and in-person) and remained viable. Much of the credit for that goes to a tireless and enormously talented staff. If you appreciate what we do, please thank BtoB's editors, reporters, designers and contributors. I do—frequently. Ellis Booker is editor of BtoB and BtoB's Media Business, and can be reached at ebooker@crain.com.
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