PR industry must improve in three key areas, says PRCA chief

The PRCA Digital PR Report 2015 reveals that progress needs to be made in the areas of skills, training and measurement.

The PRCA released its Digital PR Report 2015 last month, the leading insight into how the PR industry is dealing with digital. For the third year in a row, we partnered with YouGov and this year surveyed 280 agency and in-house PR professionals. I’ve highlighted three issues that I think are most telling about the state of the PR industry now.

The need for improved skills and training in PR continues

OK, I’ll declare an interest – the PRCA provides a wide range of training, so naturally I am biased in this regard.

But it has got to be a concern that for 35 per cent of agency staff, training in digital/social remains just a small amount of their overall training. Even more concerning is that most PR people get their social media education from expert blogs.

Forgive me but the industry needs to be investing a lot more in the skills that are going to be a huge growth area for our businesses in the future.

So what are the skills that the industry needs? The biggest percentage of in-house comms people need to know more about blogger outreach (36 per cent), while half of agency people want insight around SEO. Comms directors and agency CEOs, you have been told.

Measurement continues to confuse some

The in-house comms staffers surveyed were more confident that they could measure the ROI of traditional PR activities (72 per cent) than they were for digital and social (67 per cent). This seems surprising: digital should be easier to measure than its offline equivalent. Clearly, more needs to be done to entrench good measurement in the industry. That is why the PRCA contributed towards AMEC’s recent revisions to the Barcelona Principles.

Clients want PR agencies to do more

In the past year, we have seen huge growth in in-house PR departments expecting agencies to deliver many digital service areas, with the biggest growth in expectation around SEO (+20 per cent); blogger outreach (+18 per cent); online advertising/pay per click (+14 per cent); and online reputation management (+14 per cent).

While the percentage of agencies offering services such as these are all in the high numbers – from 47 per cent offering online ads/PPC to 82 per cent offering blogger outreach – there is still room to grow, which is a massive opportunity for the PR industry.

Remember: clients are calling on PR agencies – not digital firms or ad agencies – to provide these services. If we can get the training and measurement right then growth should follow.

The report revealed that there has been a small amount of growth in digital services as a percentage of PR agency revenue over the past year: 22.1 per cent to 22.9 per cent. Let’s see that figure grow even further by the time of the Digital PR Report 2016. 

Download the full Digital PR Report


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