Communicators Split on Digital Implementation, Impact

June 4, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Creative & Formats | PR | Retail & E-Commerce | Technology

More than half of corporate communications professionals (54%) in a recent survey say that digital communications is having a significant impact on their organization’s overall communications plan, according to Heyman Associates Executive Search.

On the other hand, though the influx of new? online tools? have revolutionized the way many people stay connected with one another and changed the way organizations speak to their audiences, a full 46% of corporate communicators still categorize the digital impact on their strategies as either “fair” (36%) or “not much” (10%).

These survey findings indicate that many in the PR and corporate communications field are still struggling with the implementation, measurement and/or responsibility for online communication, Heyman Associates said.

Study findings are detailed below.

CorpComm, Marketing, IT Have Digital Roles

When asked which department in their organization is mostly responsible for digital communications, slightly more than half of respondents say it is the corporate communications department:

  • 53% say corporate communications oversees digital communications.
  • 27% say it falls under within the traditional marketing function.
  • 8% say it falls within the IT department’s purview.
  • 12% say it falls into another area.

Challenges Affecting Digital Adoption

When respondents were asked about impediments and challenges to the broader adoption of digital initiatives, the survey found that the biggest issue facing communicators is a lack of sufficient talent with strong knowledge of the subject matter. Some 42% of respondents cite this as their number-one concern.

When asked how they were overcoming this talent obstacle, many plan to establish digital communications policies that will help current employees build their skills. In addition, many managers also hope to find the budget resources to hire people with digital skills later this year or in 2010.

Moreover, 23% of communicators also report difficulty in demonstrating ROI for online communications. Though some feel that online tactics are more measurable than traditional PR output, many have to work hard to change management’s acceptance of the online world before moving ahead with implementation. They are attempting to back up their argument with solid research and exploring non-traditional measurement tools.

Other challenges the study uncovered include organizational cultures that do not embrace the web (20%), and concerns that the online world is too overwhelming to dive into at this point (9%).

A recent study by the CMO Council found that a large percentage of CMOs believe the marketing function needs more digital focus.

About the survey: Heyman Associates surveyed more than 350 communications professionals, asking them how digital communications has impacted their PR efforts.

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