Public Relations Global Network Survey Provides Insights on the Position of Social Media in Worldwide Communications

The Public Relations Global Network (PRGN), an international network of nearly 50 independent public relations firms worldwide, has released the findings from its international survey of communications professionals regarding their current and anticipated future use of social media in Europe, Australia, Africa, South America, Middle East, Asia and the United States.

According to Mark Paterson, PRGN president, the Network conducted the survey to capture the conversation relating to social media on a global basis. “As part of our 20th anniversary year, we wanted to put in the field a survey on social media, a discipline that our industry and certainly our members have embraced that is generating significant growth internationally,” said Paterson. “It is obvious from the survey that return on investment will be the yardstick for social media.”

While the full survey results are available on the PRGN website, highlights include:

  • A total of 82% of the respondents believe that a standard measurement tool is needed to evaluate social media success. The same percentage believes that spending on social media will increase over the next five years.
  • For more than 65% of respondents, social media will help support professional global relationships (73%) and have a role to play in doing international business (68%). “This is of significance to our international network,” said Paterson.
  • The five top barriers to using social media in the future are return on investment (45%), time (39%), resources/budget (37%), support from leaders (36%), and knowledge/experience using social media tools (33%).
  • The four social media platforms currently being used were not surprising. They are LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. According to the survey, 60% indicated that they believed that Twitter and Facebook are both expected to be used more in the next five years. Blogs also are anticipated be used more.
  • When it comes to training, respondents want to learn more about Pinterest (46%), Google+ (37%), Renren (36%) and Flickr (30%).
  • The top five reasons why social media use will increase in the future include promoting events, monitoring customer feedback, launching campaigns/initiatives, giving consumers/customers a sense of community and attracting new customers.
  • Google analytics and alerts led all monitoring tools with over 70% usage each. The next five tools in order turned out to be HootSuite (38%), PR Newswire (37%), Cision (35%) and Business Wire (30%).

In the next five years, outcomes such as product sales and leads as well as traffic counts such as posts, likes, comments, trackbacks and pings both received more mentions from 70% of the respondents.

Regarding the demographics of the respondents, 43% were in public relations, 33% in communications and 21% in marketing. In terms of job function level, 45% were senior-most communications/marketing professionals. From an age perspective, 40% were 32-47, 33% were 48-66 and 26% were 31 or younger.

“Based on the results of the survey, it is safe to say that public relations agencies will only move social media forward among the clients we represent if top management agrees to support the investment,” Paterson added. “Return on investment is sure to be scrutinized by leadership.”

LCWA Research, the PRGN affiliate in Chicago, was engaged to do the survey. It was web-based and conducted between August 30 and September 12, 2012.

A copy of the PRGN white paper entitled “Communications Professionals and Social Media: PRGN’S 20th Anniversary Report to the Industry” is available online at www.prgn.com.


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