Public Relations Survey Reveals Industry Patterns and Trends

A confidential survey conducted by Davis & Gilbert LLP collected the responses of 133 public relations firms and agencies in an attempt to collect data and identify industry patterns and trends. The survey, which collected data from respondents ranging from full-service public relations firms to digital and social media professionals, was then organized into statistics that can paint a larger picture of the current state of the industry.

Some of the trends identified in analyzing the responses included the identification of challenges that PR firms currently face, impactful financial decisions, and other factors that affect the revenue brought in by a firm.

According to the Davis & Gilbert survey, the top three challenges currently facing PR firms are:

1.    Flat or decreasing client budgets

2.    Difficulty growing top line revenue

3.    Rising cost of talent

By identifying these issues, thought leaders in the industry may be able to collaborate in order to find the best ways to circumvent these challenges and bring firms into the green. To follow that up, the top three hiring, financial, and organizational/strategic practices that have proven to have a positive impact on firms’ revenue are:

●     Training employees to integrate data and analytics into everyday practice

●     Using financial management tools for more accurate budgeting

●     Integrating teams to include a mixed bag of expertise

Through the collection of responses, one opportunity that has presented itself to the industry as it looks ahead to the coming year is a larger focus on marketing and business development efforts. As the industry continues to shift to a more data-driven model, it will be imperative to have a strong business development strategy that takes advantage of technology to identify better ways to improve processes.

Another interesting factor to note, based on the survey responses, is that 57% of the respondents noted that they have increased usage of freelancers. Freelancing has become a larger industry in recent years due to the flexibility it provides. For firms, working more with freelancers affords an opportunity to save on budgetary costs that are associated with paying full-time salaries and benefits.

There is also a strong indication that hiring employees with content marketing strategy has become a more common practice. This could be indicative of a need for a more strategic content approach that can better connect with both clients and consumers.

Revenue generating services were also surveyed among respondents, and the top three responses were social media and content creation, digital, and creative services. This shows a trend towards a more creative approach to public relations that relies heavily on the skills of digital marketers.

Interestingly, 82% of those surveyed said that they had been approached within the last two years about a prospective sale of the firm. This points to an aggressive approach to consolidation as the industry continues to shift to a more digital, all-encompassing presence. 

Surveys such as that conducted by Davis & Gilbert are instrumental in identifying areas of opportunity as well as current patterns noticed by those working in the public relations industry.

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