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JOTW Top Communications Challenges Jun2020A full 70% of communications professionals believe that the function of media relations is becoming more difficult. But what’s making the role of public relations and communications a challenging one? Per a report [slideshare] from Ned’s Job of the Week (JOTW) and Sword and the Script Media, measuring PR’s impact topped the list of challenges for the 300 communications professionals surveyed.

Half of those surveyed cited measuring impact and demonstrating ROI as one of the top 5 challenges currently facing communications. Indeed, a separate survey from PRWeek and Cision found that the inability to measure impact was the second-biggest challenge for communications.

One part of the measurement problem is a lack of activity: half (51%) of the respondents said they only measure the results of their communications or PR efforts either infrequently or not at all. Specifically, 38% say their organization measures results sometimes, while 11% do so rarely and 2% never do. This contrasts with fewer than 1 in 5 (18%) who say they always measure results.

At the same time, more than half of the respondents report being only moderately (34%) or slightly (20%) familiar with the concepts of PR attribution or earned media attribution. This could mean that communications professionals are overlooking these viable measurements. Of the most popular measures of effectiveness, web traffic/analytics (71%) and impressions (63%) were at the top of the list.

Other Challenges

Proving ROI was not the only challenge communications professionals expected to face this year. Some 45% said that one of their top 5 challenges is that their executive team doesn’t understand communications. This may also have led another 27% to identify gaining executive buy-in as a top challenge.

Meanwhile, respondents also feel the challenge of cutting through the clutter and noise (40% citing in the top 5). An equal percentage pointed to budget as a key challenge. In fact, budget was at the top of the list of challenges in 2018 (63%) and 2019 (59%), while this year’s top-ranked challenge (measuring ROI) ranked at #5 for those same years. It’s worth noting that the survey was conducted prior to COVID-19 being classified as a pandemic. Therefore, budget may now be seen as a bigger challenge this year than originally anticipated.

Does Politics Play A Role?

Some 7 in 10 (72%) communications professionals agree that the current political environment has complicated the communications process. Notably, while communications professionals appear to be split on whether or not a brand should take a public stand on political issues, they tend to lean towards brands not taking a stand. About 4 in 10 (38%) say that brands should not take a public stand, compared to 3 in 10 (29%) who say they should, while one-third are unsure. These opinions may again have changed in light of recent widespread protests against racial injustice.

From a consumer’s point of view, recent research found that a majority of consumers believed that brands can drive political change and bring people of different political viewpoints together.

What Tools and Tactics Are Important?

Despite facing challenges, communications professionals do have some important tools at their disposal. Almost two-thirds (64%) agree that exclusives are important in media relations, while another half (52%) agree on the importance of embargoes.

Additionally, 6 in 10 (61%) agree that press releases are important tools. Press releases were also chosen as the most useful brand source by more than one-third (36%) of the journalists surveyed by Cision.

Respondents expect several tools and tactics to increase in importance in the next 12 months. The top 5 tactics they feel will be more important include data and analytics (76%), storytelling (74%), content marketing/blogging/brand journalism (74%), business social responsibility (76%) and thought leadership (76%).

Read more here.

About the Data: Results are based on a survey of 300 respondents during Q1 2020, prior to the coronavirus being categorized as a pandemic.

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