As parts of the world gradually reopen while coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, PR professionals have expressed confidence that their industry will come back. In fact, Muck Rack’s The State of PR 2021 [download page] study reveals that about half (48%) say they think the number of PR agencies will actually grow in the next five years.
With this comeback and anticipated growth, half (48%) of the PR professionals surveyed say they expect moderate changes to the industry in the next 5 years. While one-third (34%) are expecting drastic changes to the industry in the next five years, 9 in 10 say they’re prepared for that change.
Some changes may redefine the industry as a whole. Some 6 in 10 professionals surveyed across agencies, brands and nonprofits believe PR will need to be redefined in the next 5 years, and only one-quarter (25% of brands and nonprofits vs. 29% of agencies) believe the term “public relations” will accurately describe what they’re doing in the future.
With changes to the industry in mind, and 8 in 10 (83% of) professionals saying the importance of PR’s function will grow within their organization, what skills will lead to PR success in the next five years? Some 9 in 10 (88%) say strategic planning will be the most important skill for success in the next five years. Media relations (77%), data analytics (65%) and written communications (65%) will also be important. And with the recent resurgence in the racial and social justice movement, diversity, equity and inclusion skills (67%) will see their importance grow.
Challenges Faced by PR Professionals
While brands and nonprofits have been facing similar challenges since the pandemic – such as placing coverage in the new news cycle (52% of agencies; 48% of brands and nonprofits) and finding relevant angles for pitches (39%; 37%) – not too surprisingly more agencies (33%) have been faced with loss of clients and business revenue than brands and nonprofits (18%).
To increase the value of PR within their organization, professionals say they need to source more coverage and/or media relationships (61% of brands and nonprofits; 50% of agencies), produce measurable results (50% and 46%, respectively), and tie PR activities to key business initiatives (57% and 48%, respectively).
Along with budget limitations (49%) and measuring business impact (46%), one of the biggest challenges faced by 59% of PR professionals is getting responses from journalists, which could be due to some differences in the way these professionals work. While 6 in 10 (59% of) PR professionals say they send their pitches on Tuesdays, Muck Rack notes that previous data shows journalists prefer to receive pitches on Mondays. And, while one-quarter of journalists prefer pitches to be fewer than 100 words, only 16% of the average pitches sent are that concise.
It does appear journalists and PR agree that pitches should be sent and received during the early morning (32%) or late morning (55%) hours and that one follow-up (49%) after three to seven days (56%) is acceptable.
Read the full report here.
About the Data: Findings are based on an April-May survey of 1,618 communications professionals from agencies (50%), brands (35%) and nonprofits (15%).