You were probably told there would be no math.
A new U.K. survey reveals, however, that although 57% of PR pros cite writing/editing as a common activity (topping that list), recruiters rank research, evaluation and measurement among the top five most desirable skills.
Seventy percent of recruiters call that trifecta a valuable specialist capability, more than any other skill, according to the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) 2019 State of the Profession Survey in the U.K.
The survey shows a skills gap in other areas, as well. For senior level PR pros, recruiters place high value on corporate governance and on people management.
PR measurement and evaluation have been more advanced in the U.K. than in the U.S., suggesting there may be an even greater deficit west of the Atlantic.
Analytics skills are increasingly important to measure PR campaigns and demonstrate PR’s contribution to corporate business goals. In a previous survey by the Global Communications Report from USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations, almost two-thirds of PR executives said analytics is a required skill for PR pros.
Two-thirds of agency executives and over half (54%) of in-house PR executives say measurement is very or extremely important as a growth driver.
However, PR teams face a growing shortage of employees with data analytics skills, executives warn. Many entry-level PR professionals have not taken a probability and statistics course in college and have little understanding of media evaluation and analysis.
Because of that, PR professionals with measurement and data analysis skills will generally win higher salaries. Many communications leaders say both entry-level and experienced PR pros with data analytics skills will be better able to get ahead.
Data analytics is now almost as important as the established skills of writing and interpersonal communication, many say. PR agencies and corporate communications departments now expect staff members to measure PR results with multiple metrics and demonstrate how PR contributes to business objectives, such as increased sales and improved return on investment.
Understanding Google Analytics, analytics features of social media platforms, and leading media measurement services has become essential. College-level or online continuing education courses on statistics and data analytics can help advance careers.
According to CIPR survey participants, the top challenges facing PR are the changing social media and digital landscape, underrepresentation of PR at the board level, and not being regarded as an essential professional discipline.
Many PR leaders say improved measurement practices can improve PR’s image and help win practitioners a seat in the executive suite.
“This is the most important thing facing our sector for a number of reasons,” Jon Meakin, Grayling global head of strategic service, told PRWeek. “There is still that legacy of us being the less serious discipline when it comes to measurement and evaluation. Even though this is changing, there is still a legacy shadow we must come out of. It’s really important that we talk about measurement and evaluation, we shout about it and let clients know this is something we are taking seriously.”
A version of this post first appeared on the Glean.info blog.