More than 75% of in-house comms teams represented at board level, PRCA finds

More than three-quarters (77 per cent) of in-house comms teams are now represented at board level, according to a report by the PRCA.

Francis Ingham: PRCA director general
Francis Ingham: PRCA director general

The 2014 In-House Benchmarking Report, produced in conjunction with YouGov, revealed that board recognition of the value of comms is a key issue for only 20 per cent of employees, suggesting that real progress has been made in this area.

This was one of the biggest reported problems identified in last year’s report, with the figure standing at 34 per cent.

The report also showed that creativity, honesty and trust are the most important factors clients look for in PR consultancies – 44 per cent of clients ranked creativity the highest, followed by honesty (39 per cent) and trust (34 per cent).

There is still a significant gap between what clients and agencies consider to be the most important relationship factors, with only 15 per cent of comms directors rating personal chemistry highly, compared with 48 per cent of agencies.

In addition, agencies ranked demonstrating ROI highly (40 per cent) whereas their in-house counterparts were less concerned, with only 23 per cent considering it to be important.  

The key issues affecting in-house comms teams are budget size (49 per cent), followed by a lack of understanding of what the PR function does (44 per cent) and integrating comms into other departments’ priorities (43 per cent).

Francis Ingham, PRCA director general, said: "There is a lot to celebrate here. Most strikingly, never before have we seen the role of the in-house communications leader so valued by their organisation, with board presence and buy-in for communications growing impressively. However, it appears that there is still some work required – on both sides – to solve the riddle of client/agency relationships."

The report found that in-house budgets are stabilising, with 52 per cent expecting budgets to stay the same over the coming year.

When asked about the roles that the comms team take care of, most respondents saw building awareness (97 per cent), protecting reputation (89 per cent) and monitoring reputation (85 per cent) as key remits of their department. Only 26 per cent of respondents saw driving CSR as a comms responsibility.

Print media have returned to be the most important channel to in-house comms strategy, at 66 per cent compared with online comms (51 per cent) and online media relations (48 per cent).

Just 30 per cent of in-house comms teams do not conduct any stakeholder performance research with their customers; and 28 per cent do not research with the media.

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