SURVEY: COVID-19 highlights power of collaboration for PR pros

Our poll respondents say the crisis has changed the industry forever. Here’s how communicators see their future function as businesses navigate their way back to ‘normal.’

What will be the permanent impact of this health and economic crisis for the PR industry?

In the short term, many organizations will keep scrambling to adapt to a new media landscape, recruit talent and reimagine once-routine tasks upended by the pandemic. The changes are profound enough that some believe the industry will be altered forever.

We wanted to get a full sense of how PR pros view the future of their role. Will it be expanded? Reassigned?

We asked 315 PR pros to weigh in, and the results offer striking ways in which PR is shifting in response to the COVID-19 crisis and what it will all mean for PR pros in the “next normal.”

Here’s what they had to say:

  1. Collaboration is crucial, with the C-suite ranking as the top partner for better communication and reputation management.

The lines between internal and external communications continue to break down, and the need for unity of purpose and messaging is growing within all organizations. Respondents expect to collaborate more, identifying leaders from the C-suite as top partners for future interaction and success.

How has your department changed?

Becoming a C-suite whisperer is the future for many communicators, especially as they strive to have a greater strategic role in business operations and planning.

  1. Flexibility and creativity will be top skill sets for media relations pros.

When thinking about what will make a PR pro successful in landing earned media coverage in a new and even more fractured media landscape, respondents say being flexible will be an essential trait. Creativity is also highly prized.

Important attributes in a PR pro?

Business acumen and an entrepreneurial mindset are seen as important, but our respondents suggest that a strict adherence to preset ideals would limit a PR pro’s success. Better to be equipped with a strategic mindset and a readiness to adapt to ever-changing situations.

  1. A return to “normal” means different things to different people—but many are setting their sights on 2021.

We asked respondents when they expect to return to “normal,” and although some foresee permanent changes to the industry, many are eyeing a return to the prior status quo at the beginning of next year.

When do you anticipate returning to normal?

There is still plenty of uncertainty about what PR pros might expect in the coming months. Many respondents hedge their answers or offer caveats. What is certain is that the PR pro will have vital importance for organizations of all kinds.

To get all the insights, download your copy of the report here.


One Response to “SURVEY: COVID-19 highlights power of collaboration for PR pros”

    Ronald N. Levy says:

    It’s like war. Whether you get a medal or a bullet may depend on where you are.

    Boxing experts say to never bet that a good little man will beat a good big man. It can happen because the race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the mighty. But that’s often the common sense way to bet.

    In PR the great PR firms can often DO more than a company or association PR chief. You can make a lot more money at a top PR firm so many of the best PR people go there. And at a top PR firm there’s less peril that a new boss will decide “I want my own people,” then the new PR chief will not want the old one to be around for management to consult (in effect asking the old PR chief to second guess the new one).

    If HR decides “we need more diversity,” you CAN’T become more diverse so you CAN become unemployed although the boss is “sorry as hell because you did a really great job but think abut going abroad for us.”

    A top PR firm has earned a LOT of trust among major media, has a LOT of people highly skilled with social media, Washington PR, PR technology, health PR plus more and more.

    If worst comes to worst and the client wants you out, many others at the top PR firm may have deep respect for your judgment that keeps you in.

    Also look, no matter how good or even brilliant you are, you can make a Big Mistake. A major PR firm knows everyone can make a mistake but a client’s top management may figure it’s be safer to pick someone else who won’t.

    There’s a lot more including this reality: at a great PR firm the very great PR executives have a shot at the top job or close. But can you think of any Fortune 500 showrunners, even one, who came up through PR?

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