80% of in-house PRs don’t get social media
The research, from PR headhunter Watson Helsby, found PR agencies are much better at grasping social media – 60% of respondents said they are confident about their digital communications plans, compared with just 20% of their in-house counterparts.
The Watson Helsby report highlights just how far some organisations have to go and how much they have to deal with as they try to work out how they respond to the growing importance of social networks like Twitter and Facebook.
Top 10 Digital Challenges for today’s PR directors
1. Lack of understanding/scepticism about social media
2. Loss of control; companies can no longer control, to the extent they are accustomed, their internal and external messaging
3. Demographic apartheid; the younger generation (under 30) has an instinctive understanding of digital whilst many over 40 years of age are struggling to make sense of it
4. Fragmentation of the media; organisations are now having to contend with thousands of media outlets, making it ever more difficult to determine how best to reach and engage with stakeholders
5. Speed of change and speed of response; the speed of response required today can be measured in minutes and hours rather than days and weeks
6. Rules of engagement; there are no hard and fast rules governing digital communications and many are struggling to implement internal and external guidelines
7. Privacy and corporate security; governance and how to manage and protect both employees’ and the company’s privacy as staff increasingly turn to social media platforms at work
8. Finding good people; sourcing and recruiting good, senior level professionals who combine communications experience with digital expertise is a challenge
9. Lack of effective metrics; the weakness of current online metric systems is preventing PR directors from establishing the success (or otherwise) of their social media activities
10. Ownership of digital; the ongoing ‘land grab’ being fought with advertising and marketing colleagues as to which discipline should ‘own’ digital communications
Dee Cayhill, director at Watson Helsby, said “Social media is a development that is forcing the communications and PR industry to evolve its traditional areas of expertise, flex its skill set and develop new knowledge – for the first time in years.
“If successful, there is a real opportunity for the PR and communications industry to lead the field in digital communications, taking ever more responsibility – and budget – from their advertising and marketing peers. However, as an industry, public relations still has some way to go.”
The report adds that things are improving – companies are apparently moving away from their reliance on PR and digital agencies and creating senior digital communications roles.
A full copy of the research, which was gathered following interviews with 90 in-house and agency-side senior communications professionals, entitled ‘Digital communications and social media. The challenges facing the PR industry’ – is available.