The global state of digital PR 2020

Full report: Download the 2020 Global State of PR

The global state of PR report

At the end of 2019, Talkwalker united with YouGov, to create a comprehensive understanding of the PR industry. With 3,700 respondents from across the world, we’ve produced a detailed analysis of the opportunities, challenges, and changes the sector is facing.

Here, we take a brief look at the research highlights, or you can download the full report for further global and regional insights from North America, Latin America, North & South Europe, Middle East & Africa, and the APAC territories.

What does a PR professional do?

The digital revolution had a huge impact on the PR sector. The industry had to adapt to be more than just traditional media monitoring, with the fear that PR could be enveloped by the growth of digital marketing.

This has led to PR professionals breaking out of their moulds, absorbing more tasks into their roles. The PR professional is no longer siloed, but fully integrated into digital with the best PR offerings no longer about media relations and press offices, but now including elements such as social media management, content marketing, influencer marketing, and link building for SEO.


Global state of digital PR report - PR offerings

The roles that fall under PR

Is PR part of marketing now? Not at all. It’s more about professionals grasping the opportunities available to them, enabling them to meet higher client expectations. Plus, these elements are still supplementary to the digital PR position. Media monitoring was still deemed the most valuable element when it came to reporting results (52%). Public relations is evolving, but the fundamental skillset of creating content, pitching story ideas, and racking up coverage remains the same.

The role of PR - to tell great stories

To keep up, digital PR professionals today need to approach their work with a data-driven mindset and apply their storytelling skills to the digital world, with an understanding of the type of content that resonates across different digital platforms and channels, as well as how to build and reclaim links.

Tips on how to reclaim links

Managing brand reputation has also historically been the bread and butter of PR work - today, crises can spread like wildfire online, so digital PR professionals need to be more alert than ever and armed with the right crisis management tools.

Full report: what are the main PR offerings in your region?

The impact of social listening on public relations

With so many MarComm professionals involved in social media management and campaigns, it’s easy to see why social listening is fast becoming a vital tool in the PR tech stack - with 44% of MarComm professionals using it on a daily basis.


Global state of digital PR report - social listening use

How often PR pros use social listening tools

But there appears to be a way to go before it becomes fully integrated into the profession. There’s a split on how social listening can be used to prove the value of PR to clients, with people still relying on discredited metrics like advertising value equivalency (32%), and earned media value (29%). While more recent digital metrics such as share of voice (17%) haven’t been picked up yet - which is strange considering there’s evidence that it is important for brand growth.

Share of voice - a vital PR metric

Full report: show me the key metrics for digital PR in 2020

Examples of metrics used for measuring digital PR campaigns

There also appears to be missed opportunities in the sector, with many shockingly still behind the curve. While two thirds of MarComm professionals use social analytics for PR measurement, there’s room for uptake in other areas. Crisis management (31%) and newsjacking (15%) are two tasks that would benefit from more social listening platform usage.

Examples of brand newsjacking


Global state of digital PR report - Missing Newsjacking

Newsjacking - a missed opportunity

Tips on how to do newsjacking right

In the coming years, expect to see social listening being integrated further into PR roles, enabling more data-driven PR strategies, real-time competitive benchmarking, and faster, more thorough measurement of PR initiatives.

Single source of truth - the missing solution

Though the new multi-pronged role enables PR professionals to service clients more effectively, it also raises new challenges.

The biggest is finding a single source of truth. Agencies are having to rely on different tools to meet the different client expectations - 27% of companies using social listening have to rely on more than 2 tools to meet client needs.


Global state of digital PR report - How many social listening tools

Nearly 50% of the global digital PR industry uses more than 1 social listening tool

This can lead to a disjoint of data, with platforms providing slight variations in data sources and data gathering methodologies. Combine that with the other data required to suit the role (SEO, website analytics, internal business data, etc), and suddenly PR professionals are having to juggle a lot of different sources, with no final definition of truth they can base all decisions on.

It’ll be interesting to review this in the coming years as solutions mature, giving users more complete platforms that can integrate customer, consumer, and social data, into one place.

Talkwalker’s Customer Data+ is leading the change in this sector. 

This enables PR professionals to offer bespoke solutions to suit client needs, but can also cause a disjointed view of brand data.

Influencer marketing - the PR priority

Influencer marketing is now a valuable promotional strategy - worth up to $10 billion in 2020, with PR taking the reins. Although globally, only 67% of those surveyed thought it was PR offering, in areas such as the US, it was as high as 87%.

The biggest surprise, was that the industry is no longer believed to be dominated by Instagram. For B2C, 70% of PR professionals used Facebook to engage influencers, compared to 68% of people using Instagram. With the gap higher for B2B campaigns (65% Facebook vs. 53% Instagram).

We can also see the fairly new TikTok platform being used to engage influencers too.


Global state of digital PR report - influencer marketing channels

The platforms used to engage influencers - B2B vs. B2C

Full report: Download regional influencer marketing scorecards

Digital PR Budgets - the biggest bottlenecks

So what’s holding up the sector? It’s an age old story. Even though the industry is evolving, the biggest challenge still remains the same - budgets. Nearly half of those surveyed stated that budget constraints were holding them back from investing further into social listening.


Global state of digital PR report - what prevents a company investing

Budgets - The biggest thing holding back PR social lsitening

With so many new priorities bidding for PR companies’ time - and money - it’s more challenging to allocate the required budget. Even when the benefits are clear.

However, with budgets predicted to increase in 2020 and beyond, agencies are taking this opportunity to increase social listening spend - with 60% of companies expected to increase their spend on social listening tools in 2020.

The future of digital PR

The years ahead for PR will be fascinating. The fear of PR and marketing converging has dissipated, replaced with a sense of opportunity. The role isn’t what it used to be, and never will be again, but that brings new challenges, new skill sets, new potential that’s invigorating the industry. Adoption and changes are bound to continue, as new tools, features, and social networks like TikTok develop.

And as more PR professionals adopt social listening into their strategy, we’ll continue to see the sector thrive through 2020 and beyond.

This was just a taster of the 2020 Global State of PR report. For the full analysis, with detailed regional analysis that can help you unlock a competitive advantage, plus a range of valuable PR resources, download the complete report below.

Global state of digital PR report - CTA


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