Insights from Practitioner Research

IPR Trustees occasionally send me research conducted by their organizations with implications for public relations practice.  Here are a few insights from studies released recently.

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APCO Worldwide’s new Champion Brands index is based on a survey of 70,000 people in 15 countries.  What I found particularly interesting – and encouraging – was the identification of a new class of influencers who, in an age where public discourse is increasingly polarized, can pay attention to many aspects of the organization. 

APCO calls these individuals “stakebrokers” – highly engaged individuals who think and act in ways that differentiate them from traditional influencers.  According to the study, stakebrokers take a 360-degree view of the corporation.  They are more likely to follow company news in the media, visit corporate websites, read annual and corporate responsibility reports, investigate employment and environmental policies.  Because these people seek to understand the perspectives of many stakeholder groups simultaneously (e.g., consumers, community members, environmentalists, policy influencers, employees and investors),  they can broker information and exert influence on both elite and large audiences. 

Another insight that I found of special note:  Companies are increasingly expected (by 60% of the respondents) to serve functions of society that previously were reserved for government – a viewpoint that is especially strong in developing countries.  In fact, 45 percent of the respondents overall believe that global companies have a bigger impact on their lives than governments do.  Of course, this leads to greater scrutiny and higher expectations.  If companies have the ability to contribute to positive social change, it will be expected.

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A Makovsky survey has found that three-quarters of public relations/corporate communications and marketing executives identified social media as an area where they fail to collaborate effectively.  But nearly 86 percent said that CCOs and CMOs work well together on traditional corporate and brand identity programs.

Eighty-five percent of respondents said that marketing leaders could learn about “the power of storytelling and thought leadership” from public relations.  Eighty-three percent also felt that the marketing function needs to see corporate reputation as the consequence of authentic behavior of the entire organization.  Almost 80 percent said that public relations could learn that “data and analytics must shape decision-making” from their marketing counterparts. 

The study of 174 marketing and public relations/corporate communications vice presidents and above was conducted online by Makovsky from July through October of 2012. 

 

Frank Ovaitt is president and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations.

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