survey: signs of optimism and yes, press releases are dying... but slowly

The 3rd annual comms2point0 state of communications and PR survey is in... and there are some surprises.

by Dan Slee

After a few tough years some signs of optimism are starting to shine through to comms and PR people.

But comms is getting harder and yes, the press release is declining.

Those are some of the headline results from the annual survey of almost 200 members of the comms2point0 community.

The results may come as a surprise to some but overall clear trends are starting to emerge over the last three years.

It's clear that the trend remains digital with the decline of press releases becoming clearer.

The findings come from a survey of almost 200 comms and PR people we carried out in the final weeks of 2014. This is the third year running we've carried out a survey.

The trend for cutting numbers in teams has slowed but confidence hasn't fully returned

There is signs of stability returning... in 2014, 26 per cent said that their team got smaller through cuts against 31 per cent of teams getting larger. That's a margin for growth of six per cent.  That bucks the trend of 2013, which showed almost a third of teams shrinking and less than a fifth growing.

Comms is getting harder

When we asked the question three years ago, 68 per cent said that comms was getting harder. In 2014, this was an almost unchanged 67 per cent.

Fewer people think it is getting easier with 14 per cent three years ago declining to nine per cent in 2014.

However, a significant number have not made up their mind with 14 per cent undecided.

Press releases are dying... slowly

Almost a quarter - 24 per cent - said they expect to write fewer press releases in 2015. The figure is more than double the 11 per cent who predict more press releases with 46 per cent to stay the same. This is the largest decline in the three years of the survey.

However, a key pointer is the skills that people look for if they were hiring tomorrow. Just 23 per cent look for skills writing press releases compared to 48 per cent three years ago.

For the first time in three years social media fell from the number one skill being sought in a new member of staff. This fell an astonishing 19 per cent to 60 per cent and comes second in the list of skills sought.

Replacing social as the number one skill sought is personal skills.

Evaluation was sought by 51 per cent, campaign planning 55 per cent and tact and diplomacy by 46 per cent.

Those calling themselves 'press officers' are declining

Just eight per cent called themselves 'press officers' answered the survey while 45 per cent called themselves 'a comms person.' The trend here is for people to move away from simply dealing with the Press.

Overwhelmingly, people think there will be more digital comms

The trend is clear and overwhelming. In 2012, 92 per cent expected their organisation to do more digital comms with 82 per cent in 2013. In 2014, that climbed to 90p per cent.

There popular channels are unchanging

The top social media channels have hardly changed in the three years we have run the survey. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn dominate. The clear danger is that all efforts are put into these routes at the expense of innovation.

YouTube rises to number two pointing to a rise in the use of video. WordPress also makes a significant rise from 17 to seven in the table.

Worryingly, smaller platforms, such as WhatsApp and Snapchat, that can unlock niche audiences are being ignored.

Some channels have faded, such as Pinterest and Google Plus, while the social internal comms channel Yammer was the largest riser. This points to a greater appetite to two way internal comms inside organisations.

2014's Top 20 Social Media Channels (2013 in brackets)

 

  1. (1) Twitter  98 per cent
  2. (3) YouTube 85 per cent
  3. (2) Facebook 84 per cent
  4. (4) LinkedIn 61 per cent
  5. (5) Flickr 39 per cent
  6. (13) Yammer 37 per cent
  7. (17=) WordPress 36 per cent
  8. (18) Mailchimp 29 per cent
  9. (6) Pinterest 25 per cent
  10. (17) Storify 24 per cent
  11. (7) Google Plus 22 per cent
  12. (8) Instagram 21 per cent
  13. (NEW) Vine 17 per cent
  14. (NEW) Thunderclap 15 per cent
  15. (12) Vimeo 12 per cent
  16. (12) Soundcloud 9 per cent
  17. (15) Slideshare 10 per cent
  18. (11=) Audioboom 8 per cent
  19. (18=) Tumblr 5 per cent
  20. (18=) Blogger 4 per cent 

 

This compares to a top five in 2012 of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn and Google Plus.

The battle to allow non-comms to use social media is entrenched at 75 per cent versus 25 per cent

In 2012, 73 per cent said their organisation allowed those outside of the comms team to use digital channels. In 2013m this was 74 per cent and in 2014, this was 73 per cent with 25 per cent not. This is consistent over the three years of the survey.

We are public sector

The Comms2point0 community which responded to the survey is overwhelmingly public sector with 71 per cent. Private sector users of the site are 16 per cent with Third Sector 10 per cent. 

Our thanks to you if you took part or shared the survey link.

Dan Slee is co-creator of comms2point0.

Picture credit.