The recently published results of the 11th edition of the European Communication Monitor offer valuable insights for all public relations agencies to consider, but especially those involved in the technology sector. The 2017 European Communication Monitor (ECM) surveyed 3,378 communications professionals from 50 participating countries. It’s the most detailed and comprehensive longitudinal study in the communications industry and those in PR shouldn’t neglect the opportunity to glean insights into the challenges and opportunities facing our profession both now and into the future.
The study, entitled How strategic communication deals with the challenges of visualisation, social bots and hypermodernity, was conducted by the European Public Relations Education and Research Association (EUPRERA) and the European Association of Communication Directors (EACD). It is supported by Communication Director magazine and PRIME Research.
Here, we look at three key learnings PR professionals and agencies can take from the report.
An overwhelming 94% of communication professionals believe that visual communication will continue to gain importance. From vibrant online video, to detailed infographics or polished photography, it is vital that those working in communications are up-to-speed, as seven out of 10 organisations report a rising demand for visual communications from their stakeholders. Despite the increasing appetite, more than half of PR professionals admit that they have low overall skills in visual communications. To get ahead of the curve and to be in a position to provide impactful and quality visuals, public relations professionals should seek to upskill themselves and join the one-in-10 professionals who say they are highly skilled in the field.
2. Social Bots
In our client predictions for 2017 blog, Comtrade Digital Services expected chat bot banking to grow into a major trend. Social bots, meanwhile, are now being used as automated responders in customer care.
Social bots are predominantly viewed as a threat for both public debates and organisational reputation, and 73% of respondents agree that social bots present ethical challenges for the communication profession. Despite this perceived threat, just a third of communications professionals admit to following the debate about social bots and 16% have no idea about the topic at all. However, four out of 10 communications professionals do see opportunities arising, such as applying social bots for automated responses or for identifying and following stakeholders on social media. While a perhaps surprising 85% of organisations surveyed are not currently using social bots, PR practitioners should keep abreast with the topic and be aware of both the challenges and opportunities it poses.
3. Digital evolution
The monitor found the most important strategic issue for communications management is in coping with the digital evolution and the social web. Earlier this year, our client Equinix discussed how a move to more data-driven business models will be vital for companies wishing to gain competitive advantage in the future. Similarly, the social web should be of major attention for organisations moving forward. However, it is interesting to note that Irish practitioners continue to see traditional media relations as having equal importance to social media and social networks. Tech PR agencies need to balance their focus on engaging larger audiences through social media, while holding onto the skills that are so key in building relationships and utilising traditional channels. New and social media technology complement traditional channels, but they do not replace them. Accordingly, the shift towards online and mobile is consistently overestimated by practitioners and media relations with print publications are still stronger than expected.
A helpful summary of the research can be found here and is well worth perusal for any public relations or communications professional. A final point to take from the 2017 ECM is that aligning communications with overall organisational success remains a key strategic issue, and as a tech public relations agency, Comit is always seeking to leverage the latest communication techniques to drive business success for our clients. If you feel Comit can do likewise for you, contact us today.