Posted by:
Carli Goodfellow, Director of Digital Influence
18th Oct 16

#PRCADigital PR and Communications Report 2016 – A round up

The fourth annual #PRCADigital PR and Communications Report, produced in partnership with The Holmes Report and YouGov, was published last week and depending on the hat you’re wearing at the time of reading, you can look at the findings in a few different ways – some more positively than others!


On one hand the report suggests a wealth of opportunity for digital teams to really drive PR comms forward in the next 12 months, on the coattails of increased investment and blanket appetite from in house teams to bolster their social media performance. On the other hand, and somewhat worryingly and in contradiction to this, the report points to a lack of investment in social media training and a decrease in spend on social media strategy suggesting that perhaps it is not actually being given the seat at the grown up table that it both requires and deserves.

Contradictions and all, I’ve reviewed the report and pulled out 5 key findings and ways that in a sea of confusion we can make best use of the data and use it to better service our clients.

1. In-house attitudes

Today clients are most likely to point to wanting to drive awareness and reach as leading reasons for taking their brand online in the social space.

Negative reasons, such as the brand being attacked on social remain low as reasons to deter brands from starting in social media. Other reasons cited include a lack of budget (46%) and a lack of staff (32%).

At Cirkle we help our clients sell in social internally by helping them build a strong social media strategy by for example utilising multi-platform analytics and industry leading tools that give us up to date reach and awareness data on social influencers across owned and earned brand channels, firmly placing social as a key tool in building brand reputation.

2. Budgets

The most positive message comes across loud and clear. Spend on Digital PR is on the rise and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. The report cited 25% of in-house marketing budgets are now spent on digital. This has risen 9% since 2015, with the overwhelming expectation that they will grow further in the next 12 months. Of this spend, video content is seeing the greatest investment, at the detriment of spend on web development that appears to have dropped off a cliff!

It’s unsurprising to see clients starting to shift their budget away from owned channels (i.e. the brand website or product microsite) and start to focus on channel agnostic content that can live across multiple earned platforms, with messages distributed by both the brand and influential brand advocates.

From a creativity point of view this also gets a great big tick in my book, pushing the boundaries for our clients to embrace rich media and visual led content to live beyond the press release, much like our recipe inspiration series with Food writer and Stylist Rosie Birkett for Mission Deli Wraps.

3. Digital Service Offering

The leading service now sought and provided by PR & Communications Agencies is social influencer outreach, unsurprising and rightly so, as the service is increasingly integrated with PR.

The three core digital services now being offered by over 85% of agency respondents are blogger outreach, video based content and social influencers, and in addition clients are expecting the delivery of online media outreach and online press release distribution.

In this light Cirkle’s Social Inner Cirkle has never been more relevant. It is our own bespoke community of some of the UK’s leading online influencers on multiple social platforms from You Tube to Instagram to Snapchat to Twitter and more. We use it to help our clients partner with the most credible, authentic and influential brand advocates.

4. Platforms

There were a few head scratchers in this section of the report! The top most used social platforms by clients were the unsurprising trio of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Interestingly You Tube didn’t feature, despite video content being the lucky recipient of the greatest share of digital investment in 2015!

The biggest “not so new” players welcomed to the table are Snapchat & Instagram, boasting a 15% increase in usage since 2015. Pinterest was reported as being the biggest loser having suffered a 14 in the last 12 months in terms of usage (- 14 % since 2015).

5. Training

Finally, when it comes to social media training and industry education around digital communications the report highlights three key areas where in-house professionals are crying out for help.

Almost a third want training in social network strategy, influencer outreach, and digital crisis management so there’s a definite appetite on both sides of the fence to help bolster in house social knowledge and expertise, to drive creativity and accountability for social forwards into 2017 and beyond.

All in all this year’s report was an interesting if slightly confusing read. It’s most definitely open to interpretation and already the cause of much debate. I’m going to take away the positives.
In-house teams want to understand more about digital and see it as a growth area for their brands and excitingly new channels, rich content and social influencers are taking a front seat – Finally!

Carli Goodfellow
Director of Digital Influence

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