Visualisation Rising in Importance for Strategic Comms and Benchmarking less common in Communications Departments - ECM 2017


The European Communication Monitor 2017 report was published last Thursday, June 29th.  The report, which members will have taken part in earlier this year reveals trends for strategic  communication in Ireland and across Europe.

This year’s edition is based on a record number of 3,387 respondents from every European country. This year’s Monitor deals with the cultural transformation towards hypermodernity.

Key insights include:

  • 94% of communicators believe visualisation is rising in importance for strategic communication, however competencies to exploit this are not readily available;
  • Benchmarking is less common in communications departments compared to other business functions, and where it is, it is mainly focused on messaging activities (up to 51%);
  • With 73% citing ethical challenges with social bots; only 15% of organisations will use social bots until 2018; and
  • Cultural transformation and a move to hypermodernity is influencing stakeholder relations.

The research is led in Ireland by Dr John Gallagher of DIT who commented on the publication that:

“Despite the many cutting edge topics discussed in the report, it is encouraging to see that basic communication tenets such as linking communications to business strategy are still regarded as relevant and particularly so in Ireland. It is also interesting to see that Irish practitioners continue to see traditional media relations having equal importance with social media and social networks. Indeed, this viewpoint is apparently held to a greater extent in Ireland than in the other “northern” European countries.”

Findings of this year’s study revealed the following:

Visual trend offers huge potential for strategic communication

The fact that we live in a visual society and social media and mobile communication boost all types of visuals is clearly observable and broadly recognised by European communication managers. However, 53.3 % of the surveyed professionals have low visual communication skills – compared to 12.1 % with high visual competencies. That is also true at the organisational level. More than 80 % of the professionals have implemented standard guidelines for their visual communication. However, only 36.7 % cent have developed advanced guidelines and less than five per cent have advanced management processes for visual communication.
Quality management & Benchmarking

Quality management and continuous improvement is less common in communication departments and marketing, compared to other organisational functions. If communication departments assess their activities at all, they focus predominantly on the performance or impact of messaging activities. Holistic benchmarking approaches against externally validated standards seem to be less relevant.

Social (ro-)bots are largely neglected in Europe

Despite the growing commercial and political application of social bots findings from the ECM 2017 data demonstrate that this phenomenon is largely neglected by many communication professionals in Europe. Only one third follow the debate about social bots and 15.9 % have no idea about the topic at all. In this context social bots are mainly seen as a threat for public debates and organisational reputation alike, although four out of ten respondents do also see opportunities arising from them. 73.2 % of all respondents agree that social bots present ethical challenges for the profession.

Hypermodernity challenges old paradigms in strategic communication and for organisations

A hypermodern society is a society in overdrive, characterised by a culture of hyper consumption, hyper change, and hyper individualism. A large majority of 71.5 % of the European communication professionals witness the cultural transformation towards a hyper modern culture in their country. The transition from a postmodern to hypermodern culture is the strongest in consultancies (57.2 %) and private companies (51.8 %). Organisations with postmodern and hypermodern characteristics are ahead in sensing the trend towards an overarching consumer mentality. Most of them think that it has already changed communication with stakeholders and a large majority thinks that it will change their communication in the next three years.

The study also presents insights on social media influencers and stakeholder engagement and charts the skills, knowledge and competencies of European communication professionals and how they spend their productive time at work.
A short video summarising the key findings as well as a full report is available online here

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