Key takeouts from the PRCA Digital PR and Communications Report 2017

With the meteoric rise of social and digital platforms in the last couple of years, public relations needed to adapt to the savvy audiences. But how is the industry responding to the demand of information age? What should we know about this still very new way of reaching our audiences?

The PRCA has this Tuesday revealed the findings of its Digital PR and Communications Report 2017. It was the fifth year of conducting the research. This year’s edition saw 362 agency and in-house PR professionals respondents across many disciplines. Here are a couple of important insights that PRCA found.

#1 We love the video format

Video is one of the platforms that we are all familiar with and it seems that we’re proposing this form to our clients more often. As the research reveals, agencies saw a rise in video-based content. 13 per cent (up 10 per cent since last year) of respondents said they were briefed to deliver this format. After video, we’re expected to provide image-based (11 per cent, 5 per cent rise since last year), as well as text-based content (11 per cent, up by 7 per cent since last year).

#2 We’re not using Instagram and Snapchat as much

Shockingly, the hugely popular Instagram and Snapchat are not used in such capacity, as we might expect. As the survey indicates, the use of Instagram by in-house teams has dropped from 65 per cent, whereas use of Snapchat dropped from 20 per cent last year to 14 per cent.

Twitter remains the most used platform (93 per cent), followed by Facebook (75 per cent). Noteworthy, the latter noted a huge decline from 92 per cent last year.

On the agency side, usage of Instagram has dropped from 73 per cent to 59 per cent, while the use of Snapchat has dropped from 28 per cent to 22 per cent.

#3 Client expectations vs offering from agencies

With more campaigns executed in social and digital space, and more brands being now online, clients expect more. They want agencies to lead influencers engagement, manage crisis and reputation on digital platforms.

Digital service offerings from agencies in the majority include online media relations (82 per cent), social network strategy (80 per cent), and text-based content (79 per cent).

#4 We don’t trust measurements

The beauty of social media and digital platforms is the fact that we can measure almost anything. With the more sophisticated technology on hand, we are able to evaluate our work better than ever before.

However, confidence in the ability to measure the ROI of digital PR dropped from 73 per cent to 63 per cent within agencies. This score is now equal to the confidence in the ability to measure the ROI in traditional PR. 67 per cent of in-house respondents indicated that they can confidently measure the ROI of social media.

#5 The way we educate ourselves about digital changes

With the constantly changing and developing digital world, we have to stay on top of the nuances in order to advises our clients (agency side) or make the right decisions (in-house teams). As the PRCA research shows, the attitudes towards learning and development have changed.

In-house teams decided to use external training courses (64 per cent, increased by 28 per cent since last year), conferences and events (51 per cent) and expert blogs (49 per cent) as means of gaining knowledge about digital.

Agencies gain most of their insights from expert blogs (54 per cent), external training courses (47 per cent), and relevant events (39 per cent).

Food for thought

As much as I’d love to now make a shrewd analysis on why the above is the way it is, I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert and I know ins and outs of the client servicing and digital. I’ve been in the industry for a couple of months, so I’ve decided to compensate my lack of insights with a couple of questions to answer by the real industry experts.

  1. Measurement. What’s with this decline? Why are we not confidently measuring our work within social, if we have all the tools needed for it? Do we need more training?
  2. Instagram and Snapchat. Why is the use of it declining? Why are we still using Twitter and Facebook for the audiences that we could reach on the more visual platforms? Was the majority of respondents working across the B2B clients, as opposed to B2C? Or are we just talking in echo chamber?
  3. Accessibility. Why aren’t all brands online? Are agencies not advising their clients well? Are they not confident in their digital prowess? Are the lack of budget and staff only good excuses for the in-house teams not to be online?
  4. Conclusions. What conclusions can we draw from the survey? Is the industry moving into the right direction? Are the industry bodies educating us enough to use digital channels well?
  5. Next steps. When will those lines between B2B and B2C blur? Will VR change the way we’re campaigning in the digital platforms?


See more information about the PRCA Report here.

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