As their name suggests, public relations (PR) firms and professionals specialize in connecting businesses with the outside world. Depending on the circumstance, a PR professional may want to increase exposure for a client or, in some cases, look to repudiate an unflattering story.
Traditionally, duties under PR purview have included dissemination of corporate news and press releases, various forms of promotion, damage control, and interfacing with the media. However, with the advent of social networks and democratized digital content, PR has had to adapt to a world where everything happens in real-time and anyone’s blog or Twitter feed can be the day’s hottest news outlet.
Below, we’ll break down six PR statistics and explore how businesses can use them to create successful strategies for the coming years.
While the PR agency industry grew an average of 30% over the last five years, rates appear to be slowing. During the same period, corporate communication departments only grew by 12%. However, many in the industry remain hopeful that these numbers will increase and that PR will continue to play an important role for businesses.
Networking with journalists is at the heart of public relations, and the rise of misinformation and media distrust has taken its toll on the PR industry. In an extensive survey, Cision reports that 71% of journalists believe that the public trusts them less than they did three years ago.
As a result, journalists are becoming more selective about what they choose to report on. Consequently, PR professionals will need to make compelling cases that their information and news is worth coverage.
While influencer marketing has transformed the digital and social media advertising landscape, PR professionals can also benefit greatly from this new wave of outreach. Standing at the intersection of messaging, ad buying, content creation, and branding, influencer marketing is an effective and malleable form of communicating with customers, other businesses, and the media.
Unsurprisingly, over 60% of PR executives believe that content creation and working with social media influencers will be vital parts of public relation efforts in the future.
Though brands are willing to hire PR experts to aid in customer relations or marketing tasks, many don’t integrate a PR strategy into their marketing plans.
A study by Cision showed that only 19% of a business’s PR personnel are likely to be involved in the development of overall marketing strategy. As the two departments become more closely intertwined, brands will need to include public relations talent and ideas into the conversation.
While “social listening,” “social purpose,” and “big data” were cited in the USC Annenberg study as growing trends, over 88% of public relations professionals and 80% of marketers believe that digital storytelling is the future of communications.
As competition increases and audiences are inundated with more media options, crafting a compelling story and pushing it out to social channels will become one of PR’s greatest challenges.
PR agencies primarily work to promote companies and individuals through editorial coverage known as “earned” or “free” media. However, many PR professionals feel their duties will soon involve purchasing such mentions in newspapers, magazines, and television, as well as on digital platforms.
Most in the PR field also believe the term “public relations” is too narrow a description of what the job actually entails. Looking ahead, it’s important to consider what roles a PR agency or department will need to fulfill and how to best execute such responsibilities.
In a study by USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism, nearly half of PR professionals and more than 60% of marketing executives were said to believe that public relations and marketing will work together more closely in the future.
However, there’s less consensus on which branch will steer the direction of corporate communications and overall marketing efforts. As the two departments converge, businesses should consider how the fields can best work together to optimize outreach efforts.