Budgets increase for digital PR, but are they growing fast enough?

As the digital world continues to expand and evolve, there are huge opportunities for the PR industry to build areas of influence and expertise. However, if PR is to lead in the digital arena, it needs to dedicate skills and resources to it. But are PROs getting the budgets they need to excel?

Well, yes and no. The good news is that clients are spending more on digital, but the bad news is that many in-house comms teams feel they do not have the resources to properly manage digital channels, according to the PRCA’s Digital PR Report 2013.

The digital section of marketing budgets over the last 12 months have: 
PRCA communications director Matt Cartmell says: “While client digital budgets are growing, it does seem to be happening very slowly. Certainly, many in-house comms teams are reporting a lack of budget and staff to be able to manage digital channels properly, which is concerning. With a little investment, many companies will find that digital comms can provide greater efficiency of communications.”

The digital section of marketing budgets in the next 12 months are expected to:

It is disappointing that nearly half of brands (46 per cent) dedicate just 1 to 10 per cent of their marketing budgets on digital and social marketing. The report also shows that brands tend to spend this money on SEO and web design, which are not seen as traditional PR agency skills, although clients are increasingly turning to PR agencies to provide these.

Cartmell explains: “Currently, the top areas of digital spend are web design and build; monitoring and listening to customers; and SEO, and this money seems to be going to a wide range of suppliers including PR. Certainly, PR agencies are expecting to grow their digital revenues to 21 to 30 per cent by next year.”

The biggest client demands as reported by agencies are: 

Clients are most likely to turn to PR agencies for digital work that includes content creation; engaging customers and influencers; creating a social network strategy; and online community management. For PR agencies to claim a greater percentage of digital budgets, they need to continue to prove their proficiency in these areas while developing their skills in other key ways.

Carmell concludes: “The PR industry needs to continue to show and prove expertise in online reputation management and social network strategy. PR agencies need to wrest more ownership of content creation from in-house PR and communications teams, along with ownership of key channels. And the industry needs to work together to improve ROI proof points.”


In partnership with the PRCA, YouGov surveyed 136 agency and in-house PR professionals from 23 September to 4 October 2013 across a variety of sectors.