Over the past five years, we’ve used research to understand how PR’s role has evolved in the areas of technology, data, measurement, media outreach, and content creation. Of course, this year we had to add “the impact of the global pandemic” to that list.
Here are just a few of the findings and tips uncovered.
#1. telecommuting (more) in the spotlight
For all the chaos that COVID-19 has brought to communications and PRwire professionals, it has also created an opportunity for PR Agencies to step up and take a seat at the table. According to Global Communications Report, a majority (87%) of communications leaders agree that their company’s executives sought more input from their communications teams, with more than half (57%) citing “the effects of influence.” “Covid-19” is the most likely cause.
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#2. Data is driving communication more than ever
44% of respondents say they track extensive data about their end-user audiences from their media efforts. That’s a significant increase from 23 percent, the last time the survey was conducted globally. More significantly, 87 percent of communications professionals indicate that they use social listening insights to inform their PR campaigns. Two years ago, “social listening and engagement” received little attention.
But despite our increasing reliance on data for insight, challenges remain. One in two communications leaders says “turning data into actionable insights” is the biggest challenge associated with communications measurement. And when asked about their ability to measure and prove the impact of their communications on their organization’s business goals, only 23% said “very much” compared to most communications teams. They are still struggling with this old challenge.
#3. Data analysis is an important skill for modern communication
Regarding the importance of data to inform PR and communications campaigns, 91 percent of respondents said that “PR professionals must be not only strong communicators but also strong data analysts.” No wonder they agree. However, when asked how well their employees can use the latest technology and analytics tools, it’s clear that communications professionals have room for improvement. Another 23 percent say they are below average and need significant improvement.
# 4. The focus of public relations is changing
Communications teams are increasingly focused on connecting and building relationships with their target audiences. The majority (79%) of communications professionals say their PR campaigns focus on end-user/target audience acquisition. Only 21 percent said it was essential to publish as many articles as possible. But with influencers and journalists still key to reaching these audiences, only 25 percent of communications leaders “always” identify the right journalists and influencers for their stories.
Another sign of shifting communication priorities: When asked about the biggest media goals to achieve, the top answer was, “I want to compare my brand coverage to that of our competitors.” It is offered by 28% of communication leaders. Only 22% gave this answer. “I want real-time alerts for high-priority mentions” was the top response, up from 18%, as 26% of communications leaders indicated. The findings further emphasize the increasing reliance on data and analytics to drive strategy.
#5. Amid the pandemic, content takes priority
Currently, “content production” is at the top of the list of the biggest priorities of the communicator. How have communicators changed their strategy over the past year with this new focus on content? Given these findings, it makes sense that since the outbreak of COVID-19, communicators have become dependent on social media posts. Social media posts offer many opportunities for both audience engagement and experimentation.