Who’s Making the Decisions About Earned Media Spending?

June 30, 2022

PR professionals are confident in their near-term budgets, according to The State of PR 2022 study [download page] from Muck Rack. Some 82% of those working at brands believe their budgets will either increase (49%) or remain constant (35%) over the next year, while 88% of those at agencies feel their budgets will grow (47%) or stay the same (41%).

So who’s making decisions about PR and earned media spending? As is stands, that’s most commonly the domain of the CEO, though in only a minority of cases. About one-third (34% share) said the CEO is their company’s decision-maker for spending on PR and earned media efforts. The next-most cited decision-maker was the C-Level PR/Communications role (15%), followed by C-Level Marketing (12%), VP/Director of PR/Communications (12%), and VP/Director of Marketing (9%).

Those results indicate that a marketing role is making decisions about PR and earned media spend in at least 1 in 5 organizations. Separately, respondents signal a closer relationship between PR and marketing in the years to come. Indeed, three-quarters (76% share) said that PR’s relationship with marketing will be more important in the next 5 years, compared to just 7% who said it would become less important.

Over that time it’s possible that job roles become more blurred. A plurality of respondents working at brands (47%) believe that in 5 years the term “public relations” will need to be redefined, and a majority (55%) of respondents working at agencies agree.

As the job role evolves, respondents say that the most important skills for their PR organization’s success in the next 5 years will be strategic planning (68%), media relations (62%), social media (56%), leadership (52%), written communications (52%) and data and analytics (51%).

Other Findings:

  • PR professionals have had to confront a wide set of challenges arising from the pandemic, but the most widely cited challenge today is getting responses from journalists (52%), followed by budget limitations (45%).
  • The top way that agency respondents believe that PR can increase its value inside the organization is by sourcing more coverage and/or media relationships, while for brand respondents it’s by delivering creative solutions.
  • More than 7 in 10 respondents use social media management and/or listening software, including a majority (56%) who use these tools daily or weekly. This represents higher adoption of social media listening than found in other research into communications professionals, who most commonly turned to these tools for PR measurement.
  • PR professionals believe that subject relevance is the most important component in a pitch to a journalist.
  • The most effective channel for pitching journalists is an individual 1:1 email, per the respondents, which aligns with journalists’ own beliefs.
  • Tuesday is PR professionals’ most popular day to send pitches, although separate research indicates that journalists prefer to receive pitches on Mondays.
  • Respondents this year indicate that Twitter is the most important social network for their social media and communications strategy, taking over from LinkedIn, the most-cited last year.

About the Data: Findings are based on an April-May survey of 1,887 PR professionals from agencies (55%), brands (31%), nonprofits (12%) and government (3%). Primary audiences were split across B2B (31%), B2C (30%) and B2B and B2C (35%).

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