State of comms: Study finds 40% of execs don't think PR delivers good value to biz

Approximately two in every 10 senior executives outside the communications function know what PR stands for, according to a new report by Releasd.

On the functions that deliver the strongest value to the business, only 13% of 300 surveyed executives placed communications among their top five.

Some 37% said they do not have a good understanding of what the PR function does and 40% of the executives do not think that PR delivers good value to the business. However, of those who did have a good understanding of the function, 80% thought it delivered good value.

"In other words, the greater the understanding of communications, the greater its perceived value. This presents a huge opportunity for our industry. In order to truly demonstrate value, we first need to show our most important stakeholders how PR actually works," said Releasd CEO Richard Benson.

Where the gap lies

Of those who do not know what PR stands for, those at the director level are the most at 22%, followed by senior managers at 19%. Chief experience officers (CXOs) however, fared better in comparison to its more junior executives at 10%.

The stronger performance of CXOs may be explained by the fact that discussions around the boardroom table demand a working knowledge of all of the business’s functions, said the report. Directors and senior managers on the other hand, are more likely to be focused on the day-to-day running of their specific teams and less concerned with the nomenclature of other departments.

The results for those who have a good understanding of what their communications function does saw a similar trend, with C-level executives performing better than their more junior counterparts. According to report, the findings imply that the decisions regarding communications from the very top are informed, but execution of those ideas by subordinates is sub-optimal.

Bigger companies of 10,000 employees and above (48%) are also found to have the least understanding of the communication function.

By division, production saw three in every 10 executives not knowing what PR stands for. Finance, who manage procurement and invoicing, fared the best with only 14%. However, when the finance departments were questioned on if they feel the need to understand how the communications team does its job, the results fared poorer still.

Customer facing teams, who are on the front lines where the impact of media coverage can be most keenly felt, are found to have a better understanding of what the communications function does.

To bridge the gap in understanding, Releasd suggested the communications function to collaborate with other departments more and win advocates across the organisation by showing how their work benefits everyone.

When showcasing earned coverage to internal stakeholders, communications professionals should also curate their best works, add context and simplify metrics to help others understand what they do and why it matters. Additionally, they should also enhance their format of communication to make it more visual and digestible.

Releasd is a platform that allows public relation officers to share multimedia content and their work with various stakeholders including journalists, clients and co-workers. For the survey, 300 executives from UK companies with 1,000 employees participated. Each respondent worked at either senior management, director or C-suite level. Executives from the marketing function were excluded.