WEDNESDAY 18 MAY 2011 7:48 PM


More than a third of senior communications professionals in UK charities feel the role of communications is not valued by their organisation – often because the CEO does not understand the role it has to play.

That’s according to Get Heard, a report by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ voluntary sector group Fifth Estate and Amazon PR, which surveyed more than 120 senior PR and communications staff from the charitable and voluntary sectors.

According to the survey, 38% of respondents feel communications is not valued in their charity, of which 83% blame the chief executive’s failure to grasp the role that communications has to play.

The chief executive’s understanding of comms works both ways. More than three quarters (78%) of those who feel their professional voice is heard within their organisation attribute it to the CEO understanding the importance of communications.

Three quarters of those who feel the function is undervalued within their organisation say comms are consequently confused, inconsistent and lacking a clear strategy.

Not being involved in strategic decisions is seen as the clearest indication that they are not being heard, with 92% claiming that this demonstrates their role isn’t valued. Two thirds feel this lack of involvement could damage the reputation of their organisation because they would not be aware of, or be able to manage, risk situations.

Some 16% of respondents feel their position is at risk, either because comms is seen as a luxury that can be cut in hard times or because the senior team think a more junior member of staff can do the job just as well.

“In organisations where stakeholder engagement is paramount, underestimating the strategic role public relations has to play is very short-sighted,” said Gill Dandy, chair of the Fifth Estate group. “It is disappointing to see the lack of involvement PR professionals have in strategic decision making. However it’s encouraging to see the impact of PR savvy CEOs, but we need more.”