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Survey Offers Inside Look At State of the Public Relations Profession

The 2006 PRWeek/Cymfony Corporate Survey is out with some interesting information about the state of the public relations profession. The annual survey was open to all in-house communications professionals. Nearly 220 responded, drawing primarily from the technology, consumer products and service, and financial and professional service industries. Nearly half had revenues from $100 million to more than $1 billion, and half had between one and five employees in the communications department.

Even though the rise of consumer-generated media remains the biggest story in public relations and media in decades, it is remarkable and disappointing that only one out of ten of this year''s respondents had established a blog. This is virtually unchanged from 2005. And it doesn''t appear that number will change much in 2007 with less than four percent saying they "definitely" expect to launch a blog in 2007. Sixty percent say they "probably" or "definitely" will not.

About one third of respondents said they are monitoring blogs using blog search services such as Technorati. Smaller companies are more likely to employ traditional search tools to conduct the searches themselves while larger companies are more likely to use paid monitoring services.

Another amazing data point is that just under 50 percent of respondents said that their companies have not allocated a penny for measurement. Holy cow. Of the 51.1 percent who did, more than half only allocated one percent to five percent of their budget for research.

That''s not encouraging. It suggests that dissemination of messages is all that''s important. Anyone who has paid any attention to what''s going on recognizes that listening and enabling a dynamic exchange of information and ideas has never been more important.

It''s not like there isn''t money to go around. About 40 percent of respondents said their annual public relations budgets total $250,000 or more, while and 21 percnet said their budget exceeds $1.25 million.

What IS the money paying for? The survey found that most allocations are earmarked for media relations (18.6 percent), product and brand communications (13.1 percent), special events (nine percent), and employee and internal communications (8.7 percent).

With the continued emphasis on the day-to-day battle to get ink for the company rather than tackling big picture strategic issues, it''s not a surprise that only 44 percent of respondents said they report to the CEO, chairman or president.

In fact, of all the various marketing communications functions media relations (79.5 percent) remains the most prevalent job responsibility, say respondents. The public relations function also frequently oversees crisis communications planning and response (62.6 percent), employee and internal communications (59.4 percent), and special events (56.6 percent).

Other interesting findings include:

  • More than half of respondents say their Web site is an important vehicle for product and brand communications.
  • Nearly one-third of respondents cite reputation management as an important part of their Web site.
  • Close to one-third of respondents say a company''s Web site is very important for community relations.
  • More than half of respondents use a public relations or public affairs agency, which is down slightly from the 57 percent that said they retained agencies in 2005.
  • Of those who didn''t have an agency, only five percent said they expect to hire one this year.

The PRWeek/Cymfony Corporate Survey 2006 has a margin of error of +/- 6.5% at a 95% confidence level.

Dan Keeney
(832) 467-2904
(832) 467-2909
Author: Dan Keeney
Phone: (832) 467-2904
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