Decoding COVID-19’s impact on the PR industry with PRWeek’s Bellwether Survey

Boston University researchers and PR practitioners from leading corporations on how the pandemic is highlighting the critical importance of communications.

Decoding COVID-19’s impact on the PR industry with PRWeek’s Bellwether Survey

PRWeek’s annual Bellwether Survey, conducted with Boston University, is the largest, most comprehensive and most trusted survey of the PR industry. It’s underscoring how comms can redefine business and reinforce an organization’s culture and purpose.

Steve Barrett, editorial director of PRWeek, moderated the discussion at PRDecoded (go here to register) with Arunima Krishna, assistant professor of PR at Boston University; Michelle Friedman, VP of global comms at eBay; and Katie Boylan, EVP and chief communications officer at Target. 

Krishna stated that 71% of participants said comms played a vital role in helping organizations during the pandemic. More than 65% felt top management increased its reliance on comms and over 60% said comms became more valued in their organizations and by top managers.

The survey also found that 65% said COVID-19 changed their corporate culture. Nearly 41% of participants were spending significant time reinforcing and helping to define their cultures. 

Boylan pointed out that the pandemic reinforced Target’s purpose, which she defined as “helping all families find a little bit of joy in the every day.” As shoppers counted on the store, the retailer could be there for guests during a chaotic time. 

Friedman added that eBay’s purpose has always been “empowering economic opportunity for all.” She described one program called Up and Running, where the company helped sellers who shuttered their doors to move business online. They not only survived but thrived, she said. 

“The comms team could then amplify and tell those stories, both internally to drive employee engagement, which is an incredibly important part of our culture,” said Friedman “And then externally to tell those good stories.”

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