Global Communications Report Uncovers Trends in Future of PR and Marketing

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The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism recently released its 2017 Global Communications Report with help from the Worldcom Public Relations Group. This comprehensive survey of more than 800 public relations executives and in-house marketing executives from around the world, and (for the first time) 700 public relations and communications students, examined the role of the public relations profession and its value to business and society.

Will the roles of PR and marketing mix even more in the next five years? Almost half of the PR professionals predicted that the two will become more aligned and only eight percent said they believe PR will be a distinct and separate function. On the marketing side, 57 percent of marketers were convinced they would align and 20 percent predicted PR will be folded in under marketing.

“Monitoring this trend toward convergence, and understanding its implications, is one of the most critical issues facing the public relations industry today,” said Fred Cook, Director of the USC Center for Public Relations and Chairman of Golin, a leading PR firm. “We’re seeing a lot consolidation on both the agency and corporate fronts, which has the potential to diminish the role of the PR professional.”

Should PR redefine or rename itself in the next five years? Eighty seven percent of PR executives think it will need to be redefined. On the student side, they are more comfortable with the term PR. Less than 20 percent think it should be changed. When it came to discussing the communications trends for the next five years, digital storytelling ranked the highest with social listening, social purpose and big data following close behind.

Another interesting trend the survey recognized is the decline in revenue from earned media. Sixty percent of all PR executives believe that branded content and influencer marketing, which are both primarily paid, will be important trends in the next five years.

Everyone wants to know about measurement, so what did the report find? PR executives were asked how they felt PR could increase its value within an organization, and measurement of results only got 34 percent of the response. The overwhelming pick was demonstrating how PR achieves business objectives. They also ranked leadership and creativity above basic measurement in how PR can increase value within an organization.

What’s the deal with clients and agencies? Agencies were much more positive about growth over the next five years in contrast to in-house executives, with 92 percent predicting growth. Creative thinking and strategic insights are top reasons clients hire PR agencies, while research and analysis is last. A surprising result when discussing finding and retaining talent was that when looking for a job candidate, strategic thinking outranked writing skills.

Read the full in-depth study here.

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