PR budgets are steady: Muck Rack State of PR 2021 survey

However, getting journalists to respond and measuring impact are PR’s big challenges.

(Photo credit: Getty Images).
(Photo credit: Getty Images).

NEW YORK: Over the next year, PR budgets are set to stay the same, according to 50% of PR pros surveyed, with 45% reporting they are increasing, according to Muck Rack's State of PR 2021 survey.

Only 5% indicated their budgets are going down. Surveying more than 1,600 communications professionals, the public relations management platform's report covers trends at agencies, brands and nonprofits.

"Our study shows that organizations are continuing to invest in PR, and PR pros are continually looking for ways to measure and increase the value of their efforts," Muck Rack CEO Greg Galant said in a statement.

PR's biggest challenges are getting responses from journalists (59%), followed by budget limitations (49%) and measuring business impact (46%). A mere 6% marked collaboration and only 4% checked "finding an executive sponsor" as problematic.

For pitching journalists, 96% found email to be most effective, with 42% ranking subject relevance as the most important factor in a pitch, compared to 14% who prioritized timeliness. However, respondents also noted bad timing as the No. 1 reason why journalists passed on relevant pitches.

Tuesday is the most popular day for pitches, according to 59% of respondents, with 55% favoring 9 a.m. to noon for sending them.

As to how to increase the value of PR at their organizations, respondents pointed to sourcing more coverage and media relationships, improving internal communications, tying PR to key business initiatives and mitigating negative publicity.

About half of the survey respondents use PR tools with news monitoring and databases on a daily basis. But almost half never use PR reporting software to measure and analyze the impacts of their earned media.

More than half of respondents use social media on a weekly basis with 33% using it daily. Brands and nonprofits tend to be more active, with 43% turning to social media on a daily basis, compared to 24% at agencies.

What lies ahead for the industry? A majority expect changes in the next five years, with 73% indicating "public relations" will need to be redefined. The PR pros marked the most essential skills for the future will be strategic planning, media relations and social media.

Finally, PR insiders remain optimistic about the future. Looking down the road for the next five years, 48% predicted the number of agencies will increase, and 83% felt the importance of PR and communications will grow.

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