Study: Proving value is the No. 1 concern for PR pros

Challenges the PR industry faces include time-wasting on data management, measuring success and getting bigger department and project budgets. However, many are hopeful for the future.

PR pros' biggest concern is proving value

PR pros need to get more sophisticated with their data management.

According to a recent study from Muck Rack, many PR pros are wasting over two hours a week on manual data entry.

Many pros also don’t use customer relations management (CRM) software or other tools to help streamline their data use.

PR pros are more interested in products such as Slack, Trello, Basecamp and Adobe photoshop.

Only a third of PR pros report using social media and analytics platforms/email marketing software daily. However, 98% are using their email accounts daily for outreach and other tasks.

What’s holding up the adoption of new tools that could help PR pros run more sophisticated campaigns?

Though budget is certainly a pain point, it might be a question of priorities.

PR pros have ranked their top concerns for the coming year, and shrinking budgets tie for third with the quest to find relevant journalists. The top concerns? It’s all about measurement.

PR pros say the best way for them to prove their value internally is to offer media coverage (73%) or measurable results (68%). However, just offering data and press clippings isn’t enough for many in the PR industry. According to the Barcelona Principles, PR pros should measure the outcomes they achieve, not the inputs or assorted tasks they complete.

That means PR pros must get creative with how they measure engagement with their campaigns. If a tool can start to offer those kinds of insights, it might see rapid adoption across the PR industry.

The power of PR for leaders

A recent study from Releasd suggests that many executives don’t know the value of PR for their organization, but Muck Rack’s report indicates that leaders want to be updated by their PR teams regularly.

More than half (54%) brief their leadership teams weekly. Only 4% update leaders upon request, as opposed to having a regularly scheduled meeting.

PR pros are optimistic about their growing importance within their organizations, too. A quarter of respondents expect their budgets will increase, and 38% expect their budgets will at least stay the same. Only 11% say they expect a decrease.

However, 61% of PR pros are concerned about shrinking budgets, revealing the precarious understanding they have about the industry’s future.

Who is making the call on how much to spend on PR? Muck Rack’s report says it comes down to a CEO (29%) or another senior leader. About 20% of teams have their budget set by the marketing team or CMO.

Social media

PR pros know that social media is an ever more important part of their function, but they haven’t fully adopted it when it comes to media relations.

Almost all (93%) say they follow journalists on social media, but only 40% say they frequently follow a journalist online before pitching them.

One thing they can agree on? Twitter is the social platform of choice for both journalists and PR pros.

Facebook has fallen behind other platforms for its importance in communication strategy. At the top of the list are Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Despite Twitter’s popularity, PR pros should think twice before pitching outside of email. Most journalists still prefer to be pitched via their email account.

Hope for the future

Most PR pros are excited about the future of their industry, despite all the big changes that have come to the media landscape.

Over half (52%) are at least somewhat optimistic about the future of journalism. However, 24% are worried about the future of the news industry.

What do you think about the future of PR? Are you hopeful or pessimistic about the latest changes in the industry?

Read the full study here.

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