The state of digital PR in the UK & Nordics 2020
The PR sector is often considered to be lagging behind its more data-driven counterpart, marketing, when it comes to the adoption of digital tools and techniques. PR is, however, rapidly evolving beyond its traditional roots, while the lines between PR and marketing are becoming increasingly blurred. So, where does PR sit today, and what are the key global and regional trends?
The Global State of PR report
It’s clear that, despite the common misconception that PR is at least predominantly traditional, the sector has had to keep pace with the fast-evolving digital landscape.
We wanted to discover what this evolution looked like for those directly involved in the sector - both on a global scale and regionally.
So, late last year, we conducted a survey with YouGov - the British international Internet-based market research and data analytics firm - to find out what the PR landscape looks like in 2020.
Here, we will provide a quick overview of the key global takeaways, prior to digging in a little deeper to the UK & Nordics region.
Key global PR Survey takeaways
1. PR professionals are now more ‘social’ than ever
Social media management, content marketing, influencer marketing, and link building for SEO were revealed to be the leading PR offerings in 2020, while the sector currently accounts for a third of global social listening users.
Despite this shift, PR professionals still report mainly on traditional media coverage, with only 38% reporting the data from influencer campaigns.
2. The benefits of social listening and analytics in PR are not yet fully utilised
Just shy of half of all marcomms professionals use a social listening tool, with engagement cited as a key metric.
The PR sector seems to be missing a trick with newsjacking, however, with only 15% of PR professionals using social listening tools in this area.
3. PR influencer collaborations evolve with new social media platforms, features, and metrics
The vast majority of those surveyed consider influencer marketing to be a PR offering, with this sentiment especially strong in the Americas and Southern Europe.
Discounts, competitions, and giveaways are the most common methods of influencer collaboration, with the B2C market also dominating.
In terms of reporting, engagement rate, potential reach, and conversions to sales were the three most common metrics.
A deep dive into the state of PR in the UK & Nordics
As a result of our aforementioned partnership with YouGov, we were able to access a sizeable database of PR professionals in the UK, Sweden, and Norway, in particular.
We will now take a look at the 3 biggest findings in this region specifically.
1. Influencer marketing lagging behind the global trend
Taking the Northern Europe region as a whole, only 54% consider influencer marketing a PR offering - against a global average of 67%.
This is largely driven by the fact that less than a quarter of Norwegian respondents answered positively - by far the lowest percentage globally.
The region also lags behind the global norm for a variety of other metrics related to influencer marketing, including engagement levels across a range of different platforms.
2. The power of social listening is being underutilised
Only 62% of respondents from Northern Europe are using any social listening platform at all, against a global average of 72%.
Additionally, only 9% claimed to be using two or more social listening tools - again, far below the global average (13%) and tiny in comparison to Africa (29%) and North America (19%).
This trend also continues when we look at the frequency in usage of social listening.
Northern Europe is in joint last place when it comes to daily usage, alongside Southern Europe, with just 37% of respondents stating that they use their social listening platform(s) every day.
This is against a global average of 44%, with Africa (56%) and North America (50%) the most frequent daily users. Sweden comes in bottom in this respect at just 19%.
The low daily usage in Sweden seems to somewhat contradict the next metric, with the country trailing only India when it comes to C-level adoption at 21%. Conversely, this may highlight a key difference in how the benefits of social listening are being perceived - with Sweden seemingly viewing such tools on more of a strategic, business impact level.
The UK and Norway both come in much lower in terms of C-level adoption, at 5% and 9%, respectively.
As one final facet of this trend, the UK and Norway both come in amongst the nations most unwilling to change listening tools to match a client preference. Indeed, Norway is the 2nd least willing, after Germany, with only 21% of respondents suggesting that this would be a consideration.
Sweden, on the other hand, was one of the more flexible markets with close to two-thirds of respondents suggesting that they would be willing to accommodate a client’s preference.
Despite all of this, PR professionals in Northern Europe favour the same qualities as the global trend when it comes to social listening tools:
3. Budget constraints are the main roadblock
When it comes to addressing the regional gap in social listening utilisation, budgeting constraints reveal themselves as the major issue globally - and in Northern Europe especially.
Northern Europe is only ahead of Northern America when it comes to the likelihood of increased expenditure for social listening in the near future, with just 40% of respondents stating that more money would be spent in this area (against a global average of 60%)
This result is, however, dragged down by the UK (34%) - with Sweden (58%) and Norway (56%) much closer to the global norm.
The only other major roadblock in the region appears to be the lack of human resources, with no real concerns over buy-in at any level of an organisation.
A challenging, but interesting future for PR
Despite the obvious challenges that come with such a fast-evolving sector, it is clear that the future of PR will be increasingly diverse and interesting. It is also clear that the divergence of marketing, PR, and comms should be seen more as an opportunity than a risk.
Hopefully, the findings in this article have provided you with some clear insights into the present and future of PR in the UK & Nordics. This is just the tip of the iceberg, however, with more detailed analysis available in the full report.