- Does PR have a PR problem?
- Are PR professionals too progressive for their target audiences?
- Are PR professionals valued in the C-suite?
January 20, 2023
The 2022 NYU SPS / PRWeek Attitudinal Survey of PR Professionals
In the 2022 NYU School of Professional Studies (NYU SPS)/PRWeek Attitudinal Survey of PR Professionals revealed that today’s public relations (PR) practitioners rate themselves consistently more “progressive” on political, economic, social, and safety issues than the general US population.
The joint survey, which was designed to learn more about the value and motivations of PR professionals, together with their perspectives on the profession and its practitioners, provided a key number of insights and findings about the profession, including:
- Are PR professionals too progressive for their target audiences? – PR professionals are significantly more likely to self-identify as politically “progressive” (68%) than the US population (26%), a characteristic which also remains true across economic, public safety, and societal issues.
- Does PR have a PR problem? – PR practitioners believe people have a largely negative view of the profession in terms of its value, its ethics, and respect for PR professionals.
- The PR profession demands both creativity and business acumen – PR practitioners feel that “creativity” and “storytelling ability” are the profession’s most valuable skills. However, these are closely followed by “the ability to work with others” and “client management skills.”
- Are PR professionals valued in the C-Suite – Surveyed PR professionals believe they bring significant and unique strategic value, especially at the executive level.
This year’s survey also provided a unique perspective on what motivates someone to choose PR,” said Jennifer Scott, former NYU IMC clinical assistant professor. “For example, in a profession strongly associated with networking and influence, many PR practitioners said they were motivated to join the profession more for the opportunity to be strategic, than for the chance to work on social media and with celebrities and influencers.
"We are living and working in a purpose-driven world where the needs of business and society can’t be merely aligned; they need to be integrated into all our communications,” said Ken Kerrigan, senior vice president at the integrated communications agency, The Bliss Group, and NYU SPS faculty member. "Getting that right requires an organization, led by the public relations function, to actively listen to and engage with stakeholders across multiple communications channels. It is also encouraging to see from this study the importance the next generation of PR professionals places on ethics and purpose, while continuing to help drive an organization’s strategy and elevating the perception of our professional,” added Kerrigan.
For the 2022 Attitudinal Survey, the data was gathered using two quantitative online surveys. One was a custom questionnaire distributed among PR professionals and PR graduate students aged 20+ to capture their impressions of the industry, including social value dimensions, motivators, ethics, tactics, the role and performance of PR, and needed skills. The second survey was distributed to a representative sample of 2,500 US residents aged 18+ not involved in the PR profession.
PR Office Contacts
“With the current complexities of the PR profession, this study shines a light
on some of the key attitudes and perceptions that exist among PR
professionals today, which is incredibly relevant for all those interested in
the field of PR whether students in our PR program or industry leaders.”
Martin Ihrig, Associate Dean & Clinical Professor, Division of Programs in Business, School of Professional Studies, New York University
“We have an obligation to understand the needs and desires of the next generation of PR professionals, whose life experiences have been vastly different than those who came before them. This important study is an excellent start to learning more.”
Jim Joseph - CEO, US and Global Chief Marketing & Integration Officer, Ketchum
“The aftershocks of the global pandemic and the murder of George Floyd amplified what forward-thinking business leaders already knew - we are living and working in a purpose-driven economy where the needs of business and society need to be more than aligned; they need to be integrated. Getting that right requires an organization to be actively listening to and engaging with all of their stakeholders across multiple communications channels. That discipline has been and will be driven by the public relations function, so it was really encouraging to see the importance that the next generation of leaders in the profession place in the areas of ethics and purpose, while possessing the business acumen to help drive an organization's strategy. Public perception of the what PR people do may still be swayed by what we see on TV and in movies, but if the next generation has anything to say about it, the era of the professional as 'party planner' may finally be over.”
Ken Kerrigan - SVP, Co-Practice Lead, Professional Services, The Bliss Group
- PR professionals are significantly more “progressive” than the US population–including when it comes to issues relating to politics, economics, public safety, and society.
- PR practitioners believe people have a largely negative view of the profession in terms of its value, its ethics and respect for PR professionals.
- PR practitioners think that “creativity” and “storytelling ability” are the profession’s most valuable skills. However, these are closely followed by “the ability to work with others” and “client management skills.”
- PR professionals believe they bring significant and unique strategic value, especially for executive-level clients.