'PR's reputation has grown during pandemic' - Comms and COVID-19 survey

Most senior PR figures believe the perceived value of PR among budget-holders has grown during the coronavirus pandemic, PRWeek's research shows.

(Credit: Paul Bradbury via Getty Images)
(Credit: Paul Bradbury via Getty Images)

Of the 174 senior agency respondents to PRWeek's survey, 21 per cent "strongly agree" PR's perceived value overall has grown - 34 per cent agree.

For in-house leaders, the proportions were eight per cent and 67 per cent respectively – the same proportions that believe the perceived value of in-house teams, specifically, has grown during the crisis (82 senior in-house figures completed the survey).

Philip Allport, Norwegian Air director of comms and public affairs UK and Ireland, said: "Having in-house comms specialists available 24 hours a day has proved an invaluable asset."

Meanwile, half of agency respondents "agree" (27 per cent) or "strongly agree" (24 per cent) the perceived value of PR shops has risen.

"Based on our experience this is true," said Holly Ward, co-founder of The Forge. "We know other agencies in the marketing mix that have been put on hold, but our work has continued – albeit at a smaller rate, occasionally."

Talker Tailor Trouble Maker co-founder Steve Strickland said: "PR has always been the most responsive and fastest-paced out of all comms disciplines, which always comes into its own in times of crisis or deep need."

However, Shiloh PR managing director Evadney Campbell said her agency's clients "agree PR is an useful activity" but, given it is "difficult to value", its use is "substantially reduced… during this period when survival is the priority".

The extensive PRWeek survey on the impact of the coronavirus on comms was conducted online in August and early September. It focused on senior decision-makers at UK agencies – typically chief executives, chairs, managing directors and practice heads – and senior in-house figures, primarily comms and corporate affairs directors and heads of public affairs.


It follows the launch of #PowerOfPR, a campaign by the PRCA and PRWeek highlighting the value of PR to business and society.

During the campaign, running through the second half of September, PRWeek will publish case studies that showcase the value of PR, while the PRCA has called on PR practitioners globally to share videos championing PR practice using #PowerOfPR.

To take part, PR professionals can:

  • Record a 30- to 60-second video of yourself (filmed in landscape mode/horizontally) revealing why you’re proud to work in public relations
  • Post on social media using #PowerOfPR while tagging us on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn
  • Submit a 400- to 600-word blog post for the campaign, focusing on the positive impact PR creates for business or society, via email to Michael.Collins@prca.org.uk.

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