The results of this year's European Communication Monitor have been published and there are some intruiging insights into the public relations and communication management practice I am about to highlight here.
With almost 2,200 practitioners from 42 countries this is the largest and most comprehensive transnational strategic communciation study worldwide that has been conducted annually since 2007.
Again this year, the opinion that top management doesn't understand the communication practice has been shared by the majority of all participants – 84%. Furthermore, 75% admit that they are having difficulties proving the impact of communication management on organisational goals. These are the main barriers for the furher professionalisation of the industry. This in turn is fascinating as according to 82% of survey respondends organisations are nowadays interacting much more with stakeholders through various media outlets and have many more touchpoints with them in comparison to five years ago.
A new focus in this year's analysis was ethical issues and standards, which did represent some interesting, but not that surprising findings:
- 77% of participants believe that ethical issues are much more relevant now than five years ago, driven by compliance and transparency rules.
- 72% of respondends have stated that social media has made communication even more challenging than before, whereas 57% believe that the international character of communication has had the same impact on top of it as well.
- 58% admit that they now face more ethical challenges than five years ago.
- 52% have never used a professional code of ethics to solve such issues, and only
- 29% have ever applied an ethics code in their daily work.
As the main reason for this 32% practitioners report that traditional code of ethics provided by the PR profession are outdated. On the other hand, 93% are certain that there is definitely a need for such rules.
Not surprisingly social media is still a big, big strategic challenge for professionals and will continue to be one in the next three years as stated by more than 46% of the participants (54.9% in 2011; 53.7% in 2010; 45.0% in 2009). Other identified important issues are linking business strategy and communication effectively (44%) and the need for addressing more audiences and channels with limited communication resources (34%).
Further on the subject of the digital evolution and the social web, it seems that the importance of social media tools for the communication role has been steadily growing, including:
- online communities and social networks (75%);
- online videos (67%);
- mobile applications (65%);
- micro-blogging, e.g. Twitter (56%);
- blogs (45%).
However, there is a massive gap between identified importance and actual use of these tools:
- mobile applications with -34.7%;
- online communities and social networks with -20.1%;
- online video with -19.4%;
- blogs with -17.5%.
This could be explained by the fact that as admitted by participants they have rather moderate social media skills. To improve their knowledge practitioners believe the following ways to be suitable:
- required use of digital technologies/online tools as part of the regular work (81.4%);
- private use of digital technologies/online tools (80.8%);
- self-development without the support or requirements by the organisation (58.9%);
- attending company-specific training programs (56.2%);
- attending training programs externally (53.3%).
I find it absolutely fascinating that the majority believes the private use of social media is imperative to gain the necessary knowledge and skills. And I don't say it is unreasonbale; no, it is in my opinion the best way to learn. I only think it's fascinating because according to my dissertation findings many practitioners simply don't want to use social media privately to get better at it (more on that in a future post very soon).
To sustain what I've found, it seems that the number of communicators who will not train at all is increasing up to 14% this year from 9% in 2011.
There is also a lack in management skills and business knowledge (31% and 22% respectively) and there is a reported need for further personal development in these areas. What the study concludes here I find rather scary:
"…academic education and expectations of communication professionals regarding management, business and communication qualifications are not matched and that this is a serious problem for both sides to address: i.e. for academia to (re)claim relevance and professionals to get access to the type of knowledge they need."
It seems the profession has a long way to go (so do I), however this way would not only be challenging, but therefore also quite interesting and I am very much looking forward to being part of it.
For more details you can check out this video, or you can also have a look at the full report in the slidershare presentation below (or get the downloads here).