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Quick Summaries to 5 Surveys of PR and Corporate Communications

CEOs and business leaders are increasingly recognizing the value of corporate communications; investors say comms can increase company valuations

I’ve spent the past few weeks breaking down the survey results from The 5th Annual JOTW Strategic Communications Survey for 2022 (see these posts covering the executive summary, top challenges, organizational trust in media and views on media bias).

This week I paused to catch up on reading several other PR and corporate communications surveys that I haven’t had a chance to read yet and summarize them here for you.

1. Valuations are driven by both art and science

“Companies should be investing in the story behind their quarterly or annual results to resonate with the investment community and positively influence valuation.” So says a 2022 survey conducted by PRWeek for ICR. They polled 123 respondents including people in PR, investor relations, marketing – and also security analysts and investors.

Many respondents believe part of a company’s valuation is driven, in part, by non-financial factors. More specifically:

  • 74% “believe that at least 20% of a company’s valuation is impacted by non-financial factors”, and
  • About half (49%) “say that at least 30% of a company’s valuation is impacted by non-financial factors.”

What are those non-financial factors? The report highlights three including the following:

  • 84% say the “perceived credibility of management team”;
  • 81% say a “clearly articulated strategy and business plan”; and
  • 76% say the “quality of communication.”

Senvest Management Co-Chief Investment Officer Brian Gonick told PRWeek “investing is both art and science, with the art representing qualitative factors.”

“There should be an interplay between the two because credibility, trust and track record in management ties into the financials and KPIs. It also helps with the setting of expectations, from what the company is focused on to the milestones it needs to hit.”

Other interesting statistics:

  • Social media is material. 54% of respondents say social media has “a material impact on investment decisions” and investors (66%) are more likely to say this is true than comms people (49%);
  • Effective social channels. Most respondents say Twitter (64%) and LinkedIn (59%) are effective channels in the world of investor and financial communications; many are on the fence about Reddit 42% say it’s effective and 37% say it’s ineffective. Twitter and LinkedIn will come up again later in this post.
  • Two sides to this 88% “of comms pros rate themselves as either ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ at ‘clearly communicating your company’s strategy and plan’ to investors” but only 63% “of investors share that sentiment.”

Read more: Taking Stock of Communications by PRWeek and ICR

2. Goals, channels and metrics for internal comms

Internal communicators are striving to better inform employees – and improve engagement rates. That’s according to a survey of 250 internal comms pros conducted by Ragan in May 2022.

Top internal comms goals:

  • 74% said “keeping employees better informed with targeted/relevant content”; and
  • 70% said “improving employee retention and engagement.”

And what channels do they plan to use to achieve those goals? Good ‘ole fashioned email topped the list – and Slack didn’t even rank.

Here’s how the numbers stacked up for the top three:

  • 74% said email;
  • 63% said “virtual company/team meetings”; and
  • 47% said “in-person company/team meetings.”

How will that be measured? Email open rates course.

Another interesting statistic:

  • Hopping from screen-to-screen. 46% identified “a multichannel analytics dashboard” as a tool they would find most valuable. This is something I’m seeing in other vertical markets too. Switching screens and logging in and out of different tools to check – social metrics, placements, email open rates, clicks in SharePoint – is becoming a tedious hassle.

Read more: The State of Corporate Communications 2022 by Ragan (reg. req.)

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3. Businesses recognize corporate communications has strategic value

Nearly three-quarters of the 200 corporate communicators surveyed for an October 2021 report by Edelman say businesses are looking at comms in a new light. Some “77% say perceptions of the role of communications as a strategic business driver changed within their organization during 2020.”

These findings echo last year’s JOTW Strategy Communication Survey, published in June of 2021. That survey polled 300 communicators and found that 80% “agree” or “strongly agree” that their organizations place a greater value on communications. These respondents were seasoned professionals as well – 88% had 11 or more years of experience.

That value is showing up in the reporting structure too, according to the Edelman poll. Nearly half (46%) of chief communications officers (CCOs) report to the CEO – up 12% from a survey in 2014 that asked the same question.

“These leaders push their teams from a reactive, check-the-box focus on storytelling and information dissemination, to operating within a strategically defined framework that considers the impact and outcomes of content and programming on business priorities,” according to the report.

“They use pressure-testing strategies to ensure they tie back to objectives and think creatively about using data and insights to tell a better story and drive specific action and sentiment in their audiences.”

Other interesting statistics:

  • PR tech desires. 70% of CCOs report CommsTech as a top area of investment for the coming year, however, “58% report it’s hard for them to justify large technology investments;”
  • Internal comms demand more focus. “62% of CCOs report an increased focus on employee communications”; and
  • Centralized role preferred. “43% of communicators report operating in a centralized structure that provides them greater awareness and access to business strategy and increased relevance across channels.”

Read more: The Future of Corporate Communications by Edelman

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4. Value comes from more coverage and measurable results

A survey by Muck Rack also shows the business is thinking of comms as a partner in strategy. They polled, 1,887 PR pros in April and May of 2022 and found, “82% say their org regards their comms function as being close to a strategic partner.”

How can PR build on that perception in their organization?

“About half of all PR pros say sourcing more coverage (49%) and producing measurable results (49%) are ways they can increase value within their organization.”

There’s one little hiccup with that task:

“More than half of PR pros say their top challenge is getting responses from journalists, with agencies (59%) more challenged than brands (43%).”

That’s definitely true – PR pros have been saying media relations is getting harder for years.

Other interesting statistics:

  • Social PR. “PR pros said LinkedIn was the most valuable social platform. This year, Twitter takes the lead: 77% PR pros say Twitter is the most important platform for their comms strategy, followed by LinkedIn (73%) and Facebook (69%).” Yes and yes. I preach it to anyone that will listen: PR needs a little paid social budget for media relations.
  • In-house vs. agency. “More PR pros at agencies focus on thought leadership (53%) vs. brands (39%). More PR pros at brands focus on crisis management (42%) vs. agencies (36%). Those at brands are also more likely to focus on corporate comms (56%) vs. agencies (44%).” For the first 10 years of a comms career, agency life is a mile wide and an inch deep – and in-house it’s an inch wide and a mile deep. I think that changes some as one accumulates experience.
  • Everybody’s working on the weekend. “53% work after business hours or on weekends once a week or more.” That doesn’t mean you can’t find some balance, as I wrote on these pages way back in 2010, PR isn’t a profession, it’s a lifestyle.

Read more: The State of PR 2022 by Muck Rack

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5. Authenticity drives great PR work

PR is sometimes mistaken for spin – but it’s the opposite that true. PRovoke Media and its partners conducted their annual survey of creativity in PR and found, that “authenticity remains the top driver of great PR work in 2022, according to agency respondents, ahead of engagement and courage.

“All of those drivers, furthermore, reflect the heightened priorities of the past two years, where brands have been expected to play a more responsible, reassuring role in society, living up to the values that they often profess.”

The survey polled some 200 in-house and agency PR professionals.

Other interesting statistics:

  • Agencies say creative. “More than two-thirds of agencies (68%) report they are more likely to be approached for big, creative ideas than they were 12 months ago, compared to 56% last year”;
  • And clients agree. “clients are also more bullish, with 57% more likely to approach their PR firms for big creative ideas, compared to 46% one year ago.”
  • Stimulating creativity. “37% of companies say that they have no set ways to encourage creativity and creative behavior. 35% have internal awards in place, and 34% rely on promotion opportunities to motivate staff.”

Read more: Creativity in PR 2022 by PRovoke Media 

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I’m always interested in reviewing surveys of interest to PR and marketing. However, if you have a study, and want to send it along, please read this section first.

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