News: Inaugural PRCA U.S. Census reveals a rapidly evolving industry

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THE Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) has published the results of its first U.S. PR and Communications Census, revealing a thriving industry delivering greater value than ever for organizations and society.

This year’s research, carried out by Perspectus Global and in collaboration with the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations and PRWeek, is based on survey responses from 500 PR and communications professionals across the U.S., with data gathered between May and June 2022.

The U.S. PR industry has emerged strongly from the disruption caused by the pandemic and has continued to evolve at a rapid pace. The research points to a broadening pattern of responsibilities, with a third of respondents (33 per cent) stating they now do more reputation management work compared with two years ago.

Practitioners regard the shifting media landscape as one of the largest threats to PR’s immediate future. This was cited by almost 4 in 10 (39 per cent) respondents. Additional threats include retention of staff (33 per cent), keeping up with new tech innovation (32 per cent), reduced budgets (30 per cent), and political uncertainty (25 per cent), among others.

Furthermore, 84 per cent said that their workplace actively promotes diversity, 38 per cent of respondents indicated they had suffered from or been diagnosed with a mental health issue in the past 12 months, and 68 per cent of respondents said that they believed their organizations were doing enough to help eliminate the gender pay gap.

Francis Ingham (pictured), PRCA director general said, “The U.S. PR community – like the rest of the world – took a significant hit when Covid-19 took hold in 2020. People were furloughed and laid off. But the industry has rebounded impressively. Our data shows a significant shift towards more strategic advice and reputation management – much of that is owed to the pandemic, which demonstrated the critical importance of effective communication for organizations and society.”

Fred Cook, chair emeritus, Golin, director, USC Annenberg Center for PR, said, “Despite an extended period of dealing with the socio-economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 virus and unprecedented political unrest, the U.S. public relations profession continues to grow in both size and importance. This report reminds us that the PR profession is rapidly evolving. And that the U.S. is leading many of those important changes.”

Ellie Glason, managing director, Perspectus Global said, “We’re honored to be the research partner for the PRCA’s inaugural U.S. PR and Communications Census. The U.S. Census is a valuable barometer which will allow sector professionals to access a measurement of their industry year on year.”

Joann E. Killeen said, “The profession continues to change and as such we must educate our global workforce. Education is an on-going commitment to long-term career success. Classes, workshops, seminars, and certificates are the necessary tools to remain relevant as a PR practitioner. The PRCA is positioned to address the education needs of its members with its current program offerings.”

Jared Meade, PRCA International University Advisory Group chair, said, “While the PRCA U.S. Census report illustrates the many new challenges created by the pandemic, it also highlights the many opportunities to reshape our industry and to move the needle on important issues such as equal pay, diversity, and mental health.”