Perception of PR value soars amongst business leaders

The PRCA (Public Relations and Communications Association), the world’s largest PR professional body, has published a new study highlighting the important role public relations and communications teams played in helping businesses navigate through the uncertainty of the last two years, including Brexit, the Coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The study of CEOs and CFOs from UK-based large organisations with more than 250 employees indicates that 92% of respondents believe their communications teams played either a ‘very important’ or ‘important’ role in helping their business deal with the seismic external challenges since the start of 2020.

The survey is important as it provides insight into the opinions of CEOs and CFOs on PR value. Too often when PR and communications professionals look at improving measurement and evaluation they focus on proving value. Many CEOs and CFOs already have an understanding of the intangible value of reputation and relationships. PR and communication measurement and evaluation efforts are better focused on insight to improve plans and incremental improvement of how the plans are implemented. By focusing on insight and improvement the results or value is better by default.

The survey also showed an increase in the strategic importance placed on the contributions of PR and communications professionals (up 21 points to 89%), perhaps indicating the impact that crises and issues can have on recognising the value of having in place a strong communications team.

PR and communications were ‘very important’when it came to strengthening and protecting their corporate reputation, according to 80% of respondents. This was up from just 39% who gave the same answer in June 2020 when the first survey was conducted.

While 89% said that their communications teams provided strategic counsel to members of the senior leadership team, compared with just 68% two years ago.

Encouragingly, 62% said they expected their PR and communications team to play an even more strategically important role in the next two years.

“The PRCA represents more than 35,000 professionals worldwide and this study is further evidence of the valuable and important role that those individuals play every single day in directly impacting the business objectives of their organisations. What’s more, business leaders’ confidence in their communications teams is expected to increase in the future. We should take a moment to reflect on this achievement and then continue to keep doing what we are doing.”

Francis Ingham, director general of the PRCA

This PRCA study was carried out by Yolo Communications among 252 CEOs and CFOs from large organisations (250+ employees) between 7 June – 4 July 2022 to understand their perceptions of communications professionals. The previous study, also conducted by Yolo Communications, was carried out between 9th – 18th June 2020 among 464 CEOs/CFOs from large organisations (250+ employees).

I sit on the PR Council of the PRCA and Purposeful Relations is a consultancy member of the PRCA. I am also a fellow and chartered member of the CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) and served as a board director from 2017-19. I sit on the global executive committee of the World Communication Forum Association in Davos.

UPDATE: Minor edit on 11 January 2023 to make it clear that this is UK data.