Social and digital are more important than media relations, say PR buyers

Recent research by newsroom specialist, Mynewsdesk, into the role of in-house communicators in the UK, shows that 90 per cent are now working across more areas than ever before with more involved in social and digital activities (92 per cent) than media relations (84 per cent).

This suggests that 2014 may be the tipping point for social and digital public relations with nearly nine out of ten in-house communicators expecting their social media output to increase over the next year and 60 per cent predicting they will also be blogging more.

Video production is increasing, with over half of in-house communicators questioned having produced video content at least once a month over the last year. This type of content is now a viable format for most professional communicators due to the reduction in cost of production and the new technologies which make the creation and digital distribution of this format so much easier.

Therefore, now is the time for PR practitioners to invest in video content if they haven’t already or they risk being left behind.

Measurement issues

Proving return on investment for social media activities is shown to be difficult for most in-house communicators and methods of measurement vary significantly across the industry. Three quarters of respondents (74.5 per cent) find it difficult to define what type of content delivers the most effective return for the resources invested in producing it. 

Only one in five in-house communicators said that they use sales leads generation as a metric for measuring social media success and no two respondents used the same combination of metrics to measure their social media or digital activities, giving further insight into the need for an industry-wide set of standards for measuring public relations professionals’ digital activity.

Cable and Wireless Communications’ director of brand and comms, Lachlan Johnson, recognises that it is hard for those with an investor or stakeholder focus to attain management buy-in to a move from traditional media relations practices into social and digital activities. He says: “It is hard to make an argument to the chief executive that you need to invest a lot more in social media or a corporate Twitter feed. It may be free to set up but what is it there for? It can be difficult to demonstrate that value. Bosses understand the press release. They can see that the message has landed in the newspapers or broadcast coverage.”


Between November and January, in-house communicators responded to an online survey on the digital challenges that they faced. The invitations were supported by Twitter requests. More than 450 people completed the survey, which was powered by SurveyMonkey, over the following two months. About 10 per cent of respondents were whittled out. These respondents either worked within an agency, therefore were not eligible, or were overseas. Almost 80 per cent of respondents completed every question. The findings related to each question have been rebased to reflect the number of responses.

Written by Laura McLean, communications executive at Mynewsdesk