While other areas of PR have evolved, contact management seems stuck in a rut. But why is it such a pain point for all walks of PR? And most importantly, what can we do about it?
To find out, we launched the Global Contact Management Survey 2020. While the survey remains open until April 23, early results indicate that the majority of comms professionals could save up to 2.5 hours each week simply by changing where they store their contact lists.
What you hate most about contact management
We know, from speaking with dozens of PR teams daily, that contact management as a whole is a massive pain – but which part of it exactly is the most tedious, unreliable and time-consuming? To find out, we asked:
Which of the following is the most painful?
- Building a contact database from scratch
- Following up with unresponsive contacts
- Keeping the database current
- Establishing relationships
- Nurturing relationships
Of those options, two out of three respondents said that "keeping the database current" was the most painful contact management task. Additionally, almost half deemed "following up with unresponsive contacts" painful.
But the help of automation technology can alleviate both of those pains, if not entirely prevent them. So for this preliminary look at the results, we focused on the main pain point: keeping the database current.
A simple first step in making things better
Technology that is purpose-built for flagging out-of-date contacts, tracking bounced emails and enriching contact information already exists. So why do two-thirds of PR people have such a hard time keeping their contact lists current?
The answer is simple: the majority of PRs are storing their contacts in an outdated or entirely inappropriate format.
Let's take a closer look.
The majority (55%) of our respondents use spreadsheets, such as Google Sheets and Excel, to store and manage their contacts. This practice is so commonplace as to be almost an industry standard – but the problem is… they don't work.
These programs are built for data analysis, programming and mathematics – not for storing or tracking lists of names, notes and contact details. With their complete lack of integration with even the simplest modern-day tools, like email, it's easy to see why a PR professional using spreadsheets spends an average of 5.2 hours each week on keeping their contact lists current*.
How many hours could you save?
Of the people who highlighted "keeping the database current" as their biggest pain point, almost one-third spend 5.2 hours each week using spreadsheets to keep their contact lists up to date. Of the same group, 56% said they used "other" methods to keep their contact lists up to date, spending an average of 4.5 hours on this activity weekly. Those using their email address books lose the most time, spending nearly an entire working day – a mammoth 5.6 hours every week – keeping on top of their contact lists.
In stark contrast, PR people that use a CRM ("customer relationship management" tool) spend just 2.7 hours each week.
People currently using spreadsheets to maintain their contact information could save up to 2.5 hours per week with a switch to a dedicated CRM tool. Those using their email address book for the same purpose could save 2.9 hours – half the time they currently spend.
Register free to see the full results
The complete results of the Global Contact Management Survey 2020 will be announced and analysed during a free livestream on April 30. You can register here to watch live and receive the recording.
In the meantime, you can help us build a better report by taking 5–10 minutes to complete the Global Contact Management Survey 2020 yourself – thank you.
*Time spent = the average number of hours spent each week keeping the database current as reported by respondents who picked "keeping the database current" in response to the question "Which of the following is the most painful?". This research was carried out by Prezly. For details of the survey, methodology or media enquiries, please contact email@example.com.