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Empirical Public Relations Survey: Penn Schoen Berland


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Empirical public relations Survey carried out by PSB depicts that Empirical Public Relations has yet to be fully adopted but much progress has been made. And the introduction of more effective methods of media measurement will further its development. Public Relations today need Empirical Public Relations more than anything else if it has to remain relevant to corporate reputation.

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Empirical Public Relations Survey: Penn Schoen Berland

  2. 2. INTRODUCTIONAs communications professionals are acutely aware, great shifts ineconomic, social, political and technological behaviour are afoot,altering the fundamental project of Public Relations. India is at thelocus of many of these changes. As one of the most dynamic economies,with one of the fastest-growing middle classes, with the world’s largestdemocracy, it is possible that these shifts, and their impact on the waycompanies communicate with consumers, are felt more profoundly herethan in any other market.The Indian communications industry requires nuanced understandingof the complex challenges and opportunities it faces. This study wasconceived to facilitate such understanding; as such, we intervieweda wide variety of senior practitioners on the both the agency andclient sides, including CMOs and practice managers, to incorporateconsensus on many key issues, but one conclusion was paramount: theindustry must adopt Empirical Public Relations: communicationsstrategies rooted in the science of public opinion.77% of the professionals we talked to said that the primary factormaking the industry more complex in the last few years is the ongoingshift from measuring coverage of a communications initiative tomeasuring its business impact.Empirical Public Relations demonstrates how campaigns move theneedle by creating and applying insights at each phase, working frombaseline measurements of perception, through communications tested tomaximize effectiveness, to tracking research to demonstrate ROI.Practitioners agree that applied insights result in impact than89% of clients say they are morecomfortable with research-based campaigns. However, a crucialgap currently prevents the industry from applying science to its practice:agencies are waiting for clients to demand measurement, while clientsare waiting for agencies to propose it. Fortunately, we also found a bridge.Clients say they are ready to pay the premium for insights-basedcampaigns – meaning that agencies must create a framework to addressthis opportunity.This new model will be constructed on a foundation of expertise inthe science of public opinion, which will require development of thecommunications industry’s human capital. Therefore, industry leadersmust enhance their organizations’ applied science capabilitiesbyupgrading their own skills, developing those of their employees and hiringnew expertise into their teams. And much as Empirical Public Relationswill change the way campaigns are priced and paid for, addressing thehuman capital challenge will require a revised model of compensation,investments in technology, both to communicate most effectively in anever-accelerating, ever more-global digital world, as well as to improveAs Public Relations engages in more and more projects withdemonstrative bottom-line impact for clients, the industry will increasinglyearn a place at the table with chief executives, a perspective whichwill lead to more business-impactful communications. This positiveit is founded on Empirical Public Relations.Ashw Ani singl AMD & Chief Executive,South Asia,Penn Schoen Berland
  3. 3. 87%9%4%SAMELESSÊCOMPLEXMOREÊCOMPLEXTHE COMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRYIS BECOMING MORE COMPLEX:How do you think the public relations/communica-tions industry has changed in the past few years?ASKED OF ALL RESPONDENTS0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80SHIFTÊFROMÊCOVERAGEÊTOÊIMPACTNEWÊMEDIUMSÊOFÊCOMMUNICATIONSMOREÊINFORMEDÊAUDIENCESINCREASEDÊCOMPETITIONSOCIALÊMEDIAGLOBALIZATION77%74%72%68%74%63%SHIFT IN EMPHASIS FROMCOVERAGE TO BUSINESS IMPACTIS THE LEADING CHANGE FACTOR:What are the key paradigm shifts you have noticed in theways the public relations/communications industry usedto operate in past few years?ASKED OF ALL RESPONDENTSA MORE COMPLEXENVIRONMENT87% of Indian communicationsprofessionals believe that theindustry has become morecomplex in the last few years.Of these respondents, 77%say that the shift from anemphasis on the measurementof coverage to an emphasis onthe measurement of businessimpact has been the key factor.The success or failure of acommunications program isnow understood in terms ofthe impact it has on a client’sbottom line – a developmentwhich has proven challenging.Other key issues leadingto rising complexity includethe rise of new media anda more informed audience(74%, respectively), increasedcompetition in the marketplace(72%), the rise of social media(68%) and the increasinglyglobal nature of issues andcrises (63%).The growing need todemonstrate the businessimpacts created bycommunications programs iscreating demand for strategiesthat implement scientificmethodologies at each stage ofthe process – Empirical PublicRelations. EMPIRICAL PUBLICRELATIONS:THE NEW MANTRAFOR THE INDUSTRYIn the aftermath of the global financialcrisis, some have observed that theunderlying principles of commerce havechanged, and that we’re now operating ina “New Normal” – an era of persistentlyunderwhelming economic progress, definedby higher unemployment and slower growth.Concurrently, the Indian economy has risenin prominence – moving from the fringe of theempire towards the center of the universe.Compounding these changes, rapidly adoptedand quickly evolving new communicationstechnologies have altered and acceleratedthe way information travels. Consequently, thebrief of Indian communications professionalshas fundamentally changed.To understand the new rules of engagement,Penn Schoen Berland ( with IMPACT magazine to conduct,for the second annual India Public Relations& Corporate Communications conference, afirst-of-its-kind study amongst practicing publicrelations and communications professionals inIndia.Our research identified a significant paradigmshift for the communications industry, definedby three broad changes:1. Business impact is supplantingcoverage as the most important successmetric.2. New media is becoming more importantthan traditional media.3. Globalization: local stories no longernecessarily remain so.
  4. 4. EMPIRICAL PUBLICRELATIONSIS REQUIRED“Assessing media coverageis not enough,” says oneclient. Indeed, 89% of clientsfor communications servicessay that they would be morecomfortable with research-based campaigns. However,62% of clients report thattheir agencies do not provideresearch insights in support oftheir initiatives.This is true even though bothagencies and clients agreethat Empirical Public Relationsare more effective and providegreater value than traditional,untested campaigns.In practice, implementinginsights-based communicationstechniques turns out to bea collective action problem:Agencies are waiting for clientsto demonstrate willingnessto pay for the services, whileclients are waiting for agenciesto demonstrate the capabilities– and to propose relevant work.The question for the industry:who is going to break thevicious circle?NOYES38%62%AGENCIES FAIL TO PROVIDERESEARCH INSIGHTS TO SUPPORTTHEIR INITIATIVES:Does your public relations/communication agency provideresearch insights to support their ideas or initiatives?ASKED OF CLIENTSNOYES11%89%DESPITE CLIENTS’ INCREASEDCOMFORT WITH RESEARCH-BASEDCAMPAIGNS:Would you feel more comfortable with your public relations/communications recommendations and ideas if research insightswere provided to support the ideas or initiatives?ASKED OF CLIENTS“Public Relations companies do notpropose measurement.” – CLIENT“Nobody is ready to pay for it.”– PROVIDERCLIENTS WILL PAY A PREMIUMFOR ADVICE BASED ONEMPIRICAL EVIDENCE:Would you be willing to offer an additional incentive fordemonstrated, measurable impact? // Would you bewilling to pay a premium for strategic counsel based onempirical evidence? ASKED OF CLIENTSNOYES31%69%25%75%AGENCIES ALSO BELIEVETHAT CLIENTS WILL PAY MOREFOR EMPIRICAL PR:Do you think your client would be willing to pay apremium for strategic counsel based on research ledinsights provided by your firm? // Would your client bewilling to offer an additional incentive to your firm formeasurable impact? ASKED OF AGENCIESNOYES7%93%27%73%EMPIRICAL PUBLICRELATIONS = VALUEIn theory, the gap should beeasy to bridge.73% of clients say they arewilling to offer an additionalincentive to an agency thatcan demonstrate that theircampaigns result in measurablebusiness impacts, and 93%are willing to pay a premiumfor strategic counsel based onempirical evidence.Meanwhile, 69% of agenciessay that clients are willing topay a premium for strategiccounsel based on research,while 75% believe that clientswill offer an additional incentivefor measurable impacts.One issue that may beimpacting uptake rates is thequestion of capacity. Morethan one third of agencies(38%) report that they still lackany kind of formal process tomeasure the impact of theircampaigns.Before they can reap the valueof Empirical Public Relationswithin client relationships,agencies will need to buildthe capacity to conductmeasurement of programefficacy within their practices.
  5. 5. Clients aren’t blind to theselimitations. 70% say that upgradingcurrent employees’ skills shouldbe agencies’ top priority. 69% saythat they do not believe that PRand communications agencies aregenerally geared to respond to thechanges in the industry. Clientswho express such skepticismalso say that agencies must focuson attracting and maintainingappropriate talent (63%) andadding new skills and expertise(57%).Agency professionals are awarethat talent improvement mustbe a major focus of the industry.As Public Relations adoptsmore complex methodologiesto respond to more complicatedsituations, building teams capableof strategic, insights-basedadvisement, not just processimplementation, is increasinglykey. Team continuity is also aconcern.Communications professionalsidentify a range of threats to thegrowth and improvement of theindustry. One major challenge istalent acquisition, managementand retention.Agencies are taking steps to meetthese challenges. 77% say theyare planning to upgrade the skillsof their existing staff, 62% will addnew skills or expertise to theirteam, while 46% plan to increasethe size of their team.CLIENTS AGREE WITH AGENCIESTHAT UPGRADING SKILLS OFEXISTING STAFF IS TOP PRIORITY:What talent management steps should publicrelations/communications agencies take to meet theneeds and expectations of clients ? ASKED OFALL RESPONDENTS, SHOWING TOP FIVERESPONSES0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 800 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80AGENCIESCLIENTSUPGRADEÊSKILLSÊOFÊEXISTINGÊSTAFFADDÊNEWÊSKILLS/EXPERTISEINCREASEÊTEAMÊSIZEATTRACTÊ&ÊRETAINÊTALENT77%62%46%70%63%57%0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 800 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80AGENCIESCLIENTSUPGRADEÊSKILLSÊOFÊEXISTINGÊSTAFFADDÊNEWÊSKILLS/EXPERTISEINCREASEÊTEAMÊSIZEATTRACTÊ&ÊRETAINÊTALENT77%62%46%70%63%57%NOYES31%69%CLIENTS ARE SKEPTICAL OFAGENCIES’ ABILITY TO ADAPT TOTHE NEW NORMAL:Do you think public relations/communication agenciesin general are geared to deal with paradigm shifts in theindustry? ASKED OF CLIENTS“There’s a huge team to service myaccount, but of these ten people,hardly anyone would be doing thethinking work.” – CLIENT“New people lack patience andquickly move on to the client side, orto new jobs.” - PROVIDERHUMAN CAPITAL: AGROWING CONCERNNOYES9%91%AGENCIES BELIEVE CLIENTEXPECTATIONS ARE CHANGING:Do you think that your clients’ expectations from your firm havechanged over the last year? ASKED OF AGENCIESWhat are the various public relations or communicationservices you seek? ASKED OF CLIENTS,SHOWING TOP FIVE RESPONSESCLIENTS SEEK MORE THAN JUSTMEDIA RELATIONS FROM THEIRPARTNERS:0 20 40 60 80 100MEDIAÊRELATIONSCSRDIGITALÊMARKETINGTHOUGHTÊLEADERSHIPINTERNALÊCOMMUNICATIONS88%88%78%75%66%91% of agency respondents saythat their clients’ expectationshave changed over the last year– perhaps the best possibleindication of the transitionthe PR and communicationsindustry is undergoing toadapt to the New Normal, andcertainly a good reason foragencies to focus on buildingcapacity and expertise.Client expectations areevolving toward higher-valueservices. Clients still workwith communications partnersfor media relations – thoughstrategic media relations, withan eye to business impacts, areincreasingly preferable – but themixture of services is becomingincreasingly diverse. CorporateSocial Responsibility, DigitalMarketing, Thought Leadershipand Internal Communicationsadvisement round out the topfive services sought by PublicRelations clients – all of whichcan benefit from an EmpiricalPublic Relations approach.While shifting expectationsrepresent a challenge to Indiancommunications professionals,they also represent asignificant opportunity: asclients increasingly associatePublic Relations with moresophisticated, business-criticalprojects, the industry willnaturally move up the servicesvalue chain.NEW EXPERTISEFOR NEWEXPECTATIONS
  6. 6. NOYES45%55%MORE THAN HALF OF CLIENTRESPONDENTS LACK FORMAL PRIMPACT ASSESSMENT PROCESS:Do you have any formal process of measuring impact oreffectiveness of your public relations or communicationsprograms? ASKED OF CLIENTSHow do you measure the effectiveness of your public relations orcommunications programs? ASKED OF CLIENTSMEDIA MEASUREMENT REMAINSCLIENTS’ DOMINANT MODE OF PRPROGRAM ASSESSMENT:While communicationsprofessionals articulate cleardesire to implement scientificapproaches, there’s still workto do. Just 45% of clients saythey have implemented formalprocesses to understand theimpact of their campaigns. Andfor many, media measurementremains the primary (and inmany cases, sole) methodologyfor measuring programeffectiveness.However, an increasing numberare looking beyond media: 62%say they gauge their successat least partially throughstakeholder research, while46% monitor reactions on theInternet.While Empirical PublicRelations has yet to be fullyadopted, much progresshas been made. Andthe introduction of moreeffective methods of mediameasurement will further itsdevelopment.MEASUREMENT:THE HOLY GRAIL OFPUBLIC RELATIONS0 20 40 60 80 10092%MEDIAÊMEASUREMENTMEDIAÊEXPOSURESTAKEHOLDERÊRESEARCHINTERNALÊFEEDBACKINTERNETÊACTIVITY85%62%62%48%NOYES48%52%17%83%AGENCIES SKEPTICAL OF PEERS’PREPAREDNESS FOR THE NEWNORMAL, BUT THEY’RECONFIDENT OF THEIR OWN:Do you think public relations/communication agencies ingeneral are geared up to deal with the changes/paradigmshifts in the industry? // Do you think your agency isgeared up to deal with the changes/paradigm shifts in theindustry? ASKED OF AGENCIES0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80RESEARCHÊFORÊROIRESEARCHÊFORÊINSIGHTSTECHNOLOGY/TOOLS70%63%57%AGENCIES MUST INVEST INRESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY TOMEET CLIENT EXPECTATIONS:What should public relations/communications agenciesmake technological investments in to meet the needs andexpectations of clients like you? ASKED OF AGENCIESInevitably, the New Normal landscapewill benefit some competitors, whileothers are left behind. Our researchsuggests several action items forsuccess going forward:1. Communications firms mustcontinue to strive to implementthe established science of PublicRelations - both to show clientstheir Return on Investment, andto create actionable insights toleverage in campaigns.2. Firms must build human capitalby making investments in theknowledge and skills of currentemployees, and continue to attractnew talent who can expand theindustry’s range of expertise.3. Firms must embracetechnology, not just from a newmedia perspective but also todrive operational and processefficiencies.Barely half (52%) of agencyrespondents believe that agenciesin general are prepared to deal withthe issues presented by the ongoingparadigm shift – but 83% say thattheir own agency is prepared.In some cases, the emperor willbe revealed to be naked. Indiancommunicators must begin to adaptthemselves to the new context – orface a brutal reality check.FINDING SUCCESSIN THE NEW NORMALFOR MORE INFORMATION: S. Khanna, Director, Marketing;; M: +971 111 8615; www.psbresearch.inABOUT THIS REPORT: Penn Schoen Berland conducted 9 qualitative in-depth interviews (both in-person and over the phone)and 80 online quantitative interviews between February 22 and March 17, 2011. Sample size makes the results indicative.AUDIENCE DEFINITIONS: Clients - Chief marketing officers, heads of communications in organizations; Agencies - Publicrelation professionals (manager and above); Media - Journalists and production professionals (managers and above).