It’s being touted as “the largest and most global examination” of the public relations industry ever, and it confirms what we all suspected: The world is very different now.
The Cross Cultural Study of Leadership in Public Relations and Communication Management conducted by the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations at The University of Alabama reveal the four biggest issues identified by its global audience:
• Managing the volume and velocity of information (23.0 percent)
• The role of social media (15.3 percent)
• Improving measurement (12.2 percent)
• Dealing with fast-moving crises (11.9 percent)
The summary also revealed that PR is a largely female profession (70 percent), but it’s the generational gap—not the gender gap—that seems to be having an even greater impact. From Alabama’s website:
“Industry professionals under the age of 36 ranked issues like improving professional image and measurement of communication effectiveness much higher than older professionals. Younger and lower-level survey participants also ranked issues of social responsibility, transparency and diverse cultures higher than top leaders. Conversely, more senior, established leaders emphasized dealing with the speed and volume of information, crisis management or employee engagement.”
For those concerned with the profession’s future, two themes emerged as likely having the most impact moving forward.
• Measurement/Data analysis/Business knowledge
• “Soft skills,” or empathy — the ability to create “a greater sense of cultural awareness.”
The study, of which you can find a summary here
, includes nearly 4,500 PR professionals from 23 nations.