C-suite face time pays off for PR pros

LOS ANGELES: PR pros who report directly to the C-suite are more likely to have more resources than those who don't, according to new survey results from The Strategic Public Relations Center at the University of Southern California (USC).

LOS ANGELES: PR pros who report directly to the C-suite are more likely to have more resources than those who don't, according to new survey results from The Strategic Public Relations Center at the University of Southern California (USC).

The Annenberg School for Communication's GAP V survey found that 64% of respondents report to the C-suite. It noted a correlation between that reporting relationship, the level of support for the PR function from the C-suite, and the way in which PR and reputation factors are taken into account during the strategic decision-making process, among other items. The next most popular reporting relationship was to marketing (23%).

“The big news is that we can talk honestly about best practices,” said Jerry Swerling, head of the Annenberg School for Communication PR Studies program at USC. “If you look at the people who report to the C-suite and all of the attributes they talk about, it's amazing.”

With more PR pros reporting to the C-suite, Swerling says the question is no longer whether or not PR has a “seat at the table.”

“The question is ‘What do you do with it?' he said. “ Now it's ‘Do you have all of the tools [and] expertise you need?'”

The finding is one among a set of correlations establishing best practices for the first time in the history of its GAP V report. The GAP V is the fifth survey conducted in seven years. There were 520 senior level respondents this year, a 4.8% increase from the number reporting for the last survey, conducted in 2005.The average budget reported was $4.4 million with an average increase of 5% from 2007.

The survey also found that there is little funding for PR measurement, even among the largest companies and nonprofits.

“Among the most sophisticated organizations – whether they're Fortune 100 companies, major not-for-profits, or large government agencies – the most significant activities are carefully measured and evaluated based on broadly accepted metrics… except for public relations,” added Swerling.

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