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Get a Big Picture of the PR Landscape with these Notes from 10 Industry Surveys

Get a Big Picture of the PR Landscape with These Notes from 10 Industry Surveys

Surveys show earned media is still the most credible; exec appreciation and collaboration with PR improved during the Coronavirus

Regular readers know these pages are filled with surveys and statistics.

Some of the studies are surveys I’ve helped field, like the annual JOTW survey, however, most are by contributors or organizations from around the community.

Over the past 12 months or so, I’ve easily reviewed and written about more than 20 such PR surveys from the PR sector (there many more about marketing).

Recently I went back through all the write-ups I’ve published on surveys and boiled the results down to these ten. These lay out a pretty good picture of the PR landscape.

As always, click any image for higher resolution.

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1. Earned media still the most credible source of info

Most people find independent journalism and earned media to be the most credible source of information. Blogs, including independent and corporate blogs, can be credible. Advertising is a distant third. That’s according to an academic study by Julie O’Neil, a professor in strategic communication, and other researchers.

She and her research team conducted a focus group with 46 participants and also using a panel to survey 1,500 consumers. Their study was published in the Journal of Promotion Management and summarized in a piece for the Institute for Public Relations (IPR).

The study found 67% of the focus group participants and 48% of the survey panel indicated journalism was the most credible source of information.

More: 3 Studies Demonstrate How Earned Media Drives Behavior and Credibility

2. B2B thought leadership drives perceptions, trust and sales

A survey of 3,000+ business executives by Edelman and LinkedIn connected B2B thought leadership to trust and sales.

  • 89% of decision-makers say thought leadership “can be effective in enhancing their perceptions of an organization.” Perception, in this study, is comprised of respect (90%), trust (88%) and perception of their capabilities (88%).
  • 59% of decision-makers agree thought leadership is “a more trustworthy basis for assessing its capabilities and competencies than its marketing materials.”
  • 49% of decision-makers say that thought leadership “can be effective in influencing their purchasing decisions” and 42% of decision-makers “agree they are more willing to pay a premium to work with an organization that produces thought leadership versus those that do not.”

The findings are both compelling and consistent with those from previous years. However, you’ve got to put the hard work into the effort because thought leadership actually requires thought and leadership.

More: The 3 Characteristics of Effective Thought Leadership in B2B Marketing

3. How much money do PR professionals earn?

An annual survey by PRWeek found the median public relations salary in the U.S. is $100,000 in 2020; it’s higher for in-house PR and corporate communications roles at $145,500 and lower for PR agencies at $90,000. There’s a lot of nuance though, so give the full post a read.

More: 2020 Public Relations Salary Survey: How Much Money do PRs Pros Make?

4. Give your press release a fighting chance of coverage

What elements of a press release drive journalist interest? According to a survey of 3,000 journalists by Cision:

  • 45% said information relevant to their audience
  • 17% said a clear news hook
  • 15% said avoiding jargon
  • 8% said quotes that “add depth to a story”
  • 6% want typo-free releases, and
  • 4% want more multimedia elements (images, pictures, graphics, video).

Notice none of them cited a wire service. In other words, it’s got to be interesting. Quotes that say “we are very pleased” or “very excited” do not add depth.

More: 21 Media Relations Insights From 3 Surveys Polling 4,000+ Journalists

5. Journalists more likely to cover an exclusive

Three-quarters of journalists say they are more likely to cover a story if they are offered an exclusive, according to a survey of 1,000 reporters by Muck Rack. It could be a way to cut through the clutter since reporters are deluged with pitches.

Keep in mind, the story you are pitching has to actually be worthy of an exclusive. All the basic advice still applies (timeliness, relevancy and newsworthiness). Don’t dangle “exclusive” for a mediocre idea.

More: 21 Media Relations Insights From 3 Surveys Polling 4,000+ Journalists

6. Most reporters are on Twitter

If you work in PR and have responsibility for media relations, then you have in a sense, a professional obligation to be on Twitter.

Why? Because so many journalists are on the platform.

Consider the following statistics from an annual survey by Muck Rack:

  • The first two places journalists go to find news is online newspapers and magazines (60%) and Twitter (22%); print news is a distant third with 5%
  • 85% of journalists say Twitter is the most valuable social network
  • 69% track how many times the stories they produce are shared on social media
  • More journalists plan to spend more time on Twitter (38%) this year than any other social media site; about half (46%) will spend the same amount of time as they did last year, and
  • 75% of journalists like it when PR pros follow them on Twitter (hey, we’re all human).

More: Journalists Love Twitter, and if Your Job is Media Relations, You Should too

7. PR collaboration with C-Suite improved during COVID

PR has become more valuable to organizations because (or in spite) of the pandemic, according to a survey by Ragan Communications, which publishes trade news, events, training, and consulting services. When asked to “describe the value PR will have” on their organization (or clients), “most respondents (77%) say they see increased value for the PR role” (see graphic).

One question that provided insight into how things have changed was about collaboration, especially with executive leadership. Half of the respondents (50%) said “collaboration with the C-suite (CEO, CHRO, CMO, CFO and COO) has increased” after the pandemic.

“PR pros have always been connectors and coordinators for their clients and organizations, but during the current crisis, collaboration has seen a heavy increase,” according to the report.

More: Public Relations and COVID-19: Studies Surface Challenges, Changes and Optimism   

8. Ranking influence in business  

USC Annenberg asked more than 800 communications professionals who they thought was most influential in shaping a corporate position on social issues.

The results?

  • Executives (22%)
  • Customer (21%)
  • Employees (12%)
  • Board (11%)
  • Shareholders (11%)

Notably, PR ranked media, government officials, influencers and activist groups lower – each with less than the 10% of the votes. If you want to change corporate culture, focus your efforts on executives, customers and employees.

More: Media Relations Shrinks as a Public Relations Service; Cliff Notes to 3 Industry Reports

9. PR strong on writing, weak on tech

A study by CIPR asked respondents to rank the “perceived strongest attributes” among public relations professionals.

At the top of the list:

  • strategic thinking
  • writing, and
  • emotional intelligence.

At the bottom of the list:

  • oral communications and presentation
  • time and meeting management, and
  • technical aptitude, such as coding and SEO.

More: Media Relations Shrinks as a Public Relations Service; Cliff Notes to 3 Industry Reports

10. Social and content marketing edge out media relations

A survey by Talkwalker says media relations has been supplanted by other functions as the top services provided by public relations. The services that are edging out media relations are social media management (77%), content marketing (77%), influencer marketing (67%) and link building for SEO (56%), according to the study.

It’s a mistake to consider this a binary choice, however. Content marketing and media relations need each other. It’s a classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

More: Media Relations Shrinks as a Public Relations Service; Cliff Notes to 3 Industry Reports

* * *

If you’d like to check out some of the survey research I’ve fielded, check this post summarizing key findings from the third annual JOTW Communications Survey for 2020. In addition, there are dedicated posts that focus in on slices of the data around topics like the top PR challenges, the PR organization, media relations, storytelling, PR ethics, media bias, and the most recommended PR tech vendors.

>>> Can your agency bring big ideas and execute? Give our services a try.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
10 PR Tips for Making Your Company Easier to Cover

Image credit: instagram.com/frankstrong

 

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