The changing social and digital landscape is the biggest PR challenge – looking at this year’s #StateofPR report

Blog Article

In a time when there is very much a spotlight on spinmaster politics, fake news and a call for brand transparency and media accuracy, the CIPR’s (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) report adds a lot of context and insight to the changeable industry of Public Relations.

The State of the Profession report has been unveiling key findings for almost a decade on diversity, gender pay, salaries and skills. 2019 focused heavily on stress, mental health and gender pay gaps. These are hot topics nationwide for all industries, and PR is not exempt from these issues. It is good however to see that more than half (53%) raised mental health concerns with a manager, and as a result the majority were offered counselling, time off, training, and work re-allocation. It’s a progressive step forward for us to recognise the stress that can come with an “always-on” role that is so in sync with the 24-7 media.

What interested us most?  

Well, what I took away as the biggest observation from this year’s report is the changing skills, and changing job activities. When asked about the challenges facing the industry, PRs voted ‘Changing social and digital landscape’ first. This has bumped up from second to first place since last year. Similarly, we also see ‘An expanding skill set required of professionals’ and ‘Lack of analytical skills’ feature in the top 11.

PRs think the biggest challenge facing the industry is the changing social and digital landscape

‘Convergence with other disciplines’ features in the top five concerns in the 2019 report – and this is an area we are aware of as a digital marketing agency. Increasingly the lines and skill sets are blurred between PRs, SEOs, Content Marketers, and Social Media Managers, as each service shares the same end goal: to promote a client and make them visible. We can peg these concerns to digital transformation of the industry. Digital has crept in and changed the way brands operate, and how we as consumers search for and respond to them. It has changed our PR tactics as a result and further greyed the reporting and analysis side of PR work.

If the discipline itself is evolving, does this affect what PRs do?

When looking at the day-to-day, ‘copywriting and editing’ remained the number one most common activity, with professionals voting ‘media relations’ as a close second, and later naturally follows crisis communications, strategic planning, events, campaigns, etc. This itself isn’t overly surprising, but a notable takeaway from the report is that social media relations fell from fifth most common PR activity to ninth. This is the biggest task shift over the last year! This indicates a trend towards the converging disciplines and a rise in “experts”. Agencies and in-house teams are re-evaluating propositions and aligning recruitment and training to mirror these changing skills. If a brand requires social media services, they are probably likely to seek a hire or agency who is a social media expert, rather than a PR agency with some social media skills. And rightly so.

What does this mean for the industry?

PR itself continues to grow – brands will always rely on the industry to build positive endorsement and exposure for their products and services, and to rely on during times of crisis. But is the shift in what PRs are doing and how we are doing it alongside more traditional activities. Traditional PR is much harder to measure, compared to Digital PR for example, which can give clients visibility of success due to being online. With the influx of influencers, online communities, media apps and podcasts, alongside developments in search and user experience, it is easy to see why these challenges arise in the report. The digital landscape and associated skill set are reflected throughout the report. It will be interesting to see how professionals use this insight to adapt, diversify and upskill in the next year. The CIPR has again delivered another insightful and comprehensive report on the industry. You can download and read the full State of the Profession 2019 here, or watch the video below.

Have you seen the latest CIPR State of the Profession report? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us @ithinkmediauk!