In April 2023, Muck Rack surveyed more than a thousand international PR specialists, mainly from the United States of America. 55% of the participants are agencies, 23% are brands, and 12% represent non-profit organizations. The respondents work both in the B2B and B2C sectors.
Challenges and work efficiency
PR specialists name the difficulty of getting a reaction from journalists as one of their greatest challenges. It is worth noting that this concerns mostly agencies rather than PR specialists in companies. Instead, brands worry about having enough resources to operate – financial, human, etc. Among the important challenges, the interviewees also mention the need to demonstrate to stakeholders the value of the work of PR specialists.
Most PR professionals believe that stakeholders can see the value of their work through measurable results and indicators. 70% of brand PR specialists also say that linking PR activities to business initiatives increases the value of their work. In agencies, this indicator is somewhat lower - 60%. The top three methods of demonstrating your work to key stakeholders include increased media coverage and attracting more media.
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Approximately one-third of the interviewed public relations professionals use social listening every day to track the mentions and comments of the target audience. The same number still use this tool only when necessary. The rest of the respondents monitor audience feedback monthly or weekly.
Public relations specialists prefer pitching in four types of modern media: digital, printed magazines and newspapers, and television, with digital media leading by a significant margin.
Interestingly, specialists of PR agencies use a broader list of resources such as podcasts, newsletters, and radio for pitching.
A significant part (83%) of PR professionals use media databases to find relevant journalists for a pitch. However, Google search, personal contacts, and social networks maintain their popularity.
The decline of Facebook and Twitter
Facebook is losing momentum among PR specialists. According to the survey, 25% of PR professionals plan to use it less. Instead, more than half of those surveyed want to use more LinkedIn opportunities. They also list TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube among this year’s priority social networks for work.
PR specialists announce their plans in the communication strategies of brands on LinkedIn. The social network has gained significant popularity among PR professionals and is currently the leader in the number of brands using it as part of their communication strategies. There are also high expectations placed on Instagram. Although Twitter has lost some ground compared to last year, it remains in the top three.
Overall, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter remain the most popular social media among communicators. YouTube turns out to be somewhat less popular. And while TikTok is in sixth place, it is not included in more than half of the communication plans of brands.
Who makes the call on what to spend money on?
Curiously, in most companies, the CEO is the one who makes decisions regarding budgets and spending on PR activities. Less than twice as often, it is the director of communications. Cases of employees allocating funds at their discretion are extremely rare.
Four key indicators demonstrating the effectiveness of PR activities are the number of publications, coverage and response of the target audience, delivery of messages, and website impact. Interestingly, the number of publications is more important for agencies, while brands increasingly look at the impact of PR on the company's revenues.
More and more experts believe that the work of PR specialists will come in even closer relation to the activities of their marketing counterparts. 71% of respondents predict that the PR and marketing synergy will become increasingly important over the next five years.
Data analysis is in trend. More than a third of respondents recognized analytical skills as extremely important for PR specialists. In addition, knowledge of the opportunities provided by artificial intelligence at work has become a required skill. Together with media relations, strategic planning, and multimedia skills, they make up the top five essential skills for PR professionals.