How Do Marketing and PR Pros Think Their Roles Will Converge?

A majority of marketers believe that public relations will become more closely aligned with marketing in the next 5 years, something that many PR professionals agree with. But there are some differences in opinions among other respondents to USC Annenberg’s Global Communications Report 2017 [pdf].

In fact, 41% of PR agency respondents and 35% of in-house PR respondents believe that public relations will either play an increasingly important role compared to marketing or will play a dominant role over marketing. Not too surprisingly, marketers are less inclined to agree that such a shift will take place, as only 1 in 8 felt that way.

Instead, 1 in 5 marketers surveyed believe that PR will become a subset of marketing in the next 5 years, being more than twice as likely as PR professionals to feel that this will occur.

For the time being, few PR professionals surveyed report to Marketing: only about one-fifth said they do so, regardless of agency or in-house status. Instead, the CEO/President is the most common boss for in-house PR executives, while for agencies the Corporate Communications team is the most common boss.

The marketing and PR converge question is interesting in light of separate results from the report, in which . This suggests, per the report’s authors that “the opportunity is to move aggressively into paid content, an area long dominated by advertising…” which will in turn “require PR professionals to master media buying.”

It remains to be seen how marketers will feel about that…

One thing that marketers and PR executives have in common, though: an increasing desire (and pressure, in many cases) to prove their value. Indeed, the vast majority of PR professionals surveyed said that PR could increase its value to the organization by demonstrating how PR programs achieve measurable business objectives. A slight majority also feel that PR could demonstrate leadership on key business initiatives.

These themes – of taking greater leadership within the organization, and of proving value within the organization – are shared by marketers around the world today. Perhaps there’s an opportunity for marketers and PR executives to work together?

About the Data: The results of the study are based on three separate surveys. There were 875 public relations professionals surveyed (63% agency, 37% in-house), 101 marketers surveyed by the ANA, and 687 PR students surveyed (78% undergraduates, 22% graduates/post-graduates).