PRII Members Central to Communications Strategy Development but Boardroom Blockages Remain

14/02/2017

In his second report on the findings of the PRII’s 2017 Annual Survey, Frank Condon – the PRII’s Development and Research Manager – highlights how members are central to the development of their organisation’s communications strategy. However, there is still insufficient consideration of communications in company’s wider business strategy development.

According to the survey, 89% of PRII members in agency roles work directly with clients to develop their communications strategy, with 94.2% in-house members reporting being either directly responsible for their organisation’s communications strategy (60%) or contributing to it (34.2%). This clearly demonstrates the fact that the work being carried out by members is strategic in its nature rather than focused primarily on tactics.

However, reflecting a theme that has been developed by the PRII in the past number of years – and one which is shared by the other related professions – there is insufficient regard given to communications in the broader strategic approach of the organisation. Looking at in-house members first, only 11% report that there is someone on their organisation’s board who has direct responsibility for communications. In 58% of cases, the board is briefed by a senior member of the communications team, but in a staggering 29% of cases the board plays no role in developing communications strategy.

On the agency side, respondents to the survey were asked what their engagement was in the development of their client’s wider business strategy. 30% of agency members report having a direct role in the development of such strategies, which is a positive, while 54% report contributing on an ad-hoc basis. 16% report no involvement though.

For the long-term success and development of the public relations profession, it is imperative that communications – be it from an internal or external resource – is at the centre of organisational decision making. For many organisations it is as our survey demonstrates, but it is of concern that it is not always the case and is not ‘mainstreamed’ into the decision-making process of most organisations that PRII members work with. Not only is this in the self-interest of PRII members, but it is also the only sensible approach that ensures an organisation has a long-term licence to operate from its stakeholders. This was a topic that the PRII’s Immediate Past President, Jacqueline Hall addressed in the Sunday Independent a number of months ago.

When looking at how the PRII can support members in doing such work, the survey highlighted the need for skills development in areas such as:

  • evaluating and measuring the value of PR;
  • communications as a strategic function;
  • crisis communications;
  • internal communications; and
  • financial and investor relations.

The 2017 PRII Annual Survey received 130 responses (13.5% of the current PRII membership). Last week’s report looked at the expectations of PR professionals for the year ahead (it’s positive) and over the next two weeks, we will report on the challenges and opportunities for the profession in 2017 and what the PRII’s members want from the PRII in the coming months.

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