WEDNESDAY 7 NOV 2018 5:21 PM


The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) with Ginger Research has launched its 2018 Digital PR and Communications Report and its results don’t leave room for comfort. Digital is still dominated by Facebook and Twitter but the key takeaway from the report is that in-house and agency belts have tightened. Austerity continues in digital PR and comms budgets and, for the second consecutive year, digital is perceived to have a decreased ROI for brands, requiring those in digital to provide more for less.

At the moment, digital platform usage is still dominated by Twitter and Facebook. Twitter receives a 94% popularity rating by in-house teams and a 91% rating by agencies. Facebook follows Twitter with a 72% rating by brands and 85% by agencies. Agencies are also using LinkedIn heavily, at 85%. However, the report’s most notable findings are about Instagram. Although not at its 2016 high of 65%, Instagram still increased in usage to 56% this year by in-house teams and in agencies jumped from 59% to 70%. In the next year, Instagram is expected to be used by 78% of agencies. Only 10% of brands are using Snapchat and 19% of agencies – much of its USP has been adopted by Instagram and Facebook stories, so these decreases may well continue.

Unfortunately for digital teams, ROI confidence and budgets are down. The ROI for digital PR has dropped again from 63% to 58%, lower than traditional forms of PR for the first time since the report began six years ago. Generally, digital budgets have reportedly been down because of a lack of staff (49%), time (45%) and budget constraints (30%) but with a decreased confidence in its ROI, resources may get tighter still. As it is, average spends for digital are down to 25.3% compared to 27% in 2017.

In-house digital budgets are being distributed relatively equally between paid social media work at 55%, web design and development at 51% and video content at 49%. However within those spheres, cuts to pro-am bloggers are down 9% and influencers are down 16%. The cuts reflect increased pressures on in-house teams to create content themselves. Respondents said that the skills they needed to learn most about to improve in their positions are social influencer outreach (39%), social networking strategies (24%), customer monitoring (24%) and digital community engagement (51%).

The digital landscape may not seem as bountiful as it once was but lest digital detractors crow too loudly, it’s important to recognise that blindly throwing resources at digital was always a recipe for mixed success. With the right skills development, digital PR and comms teams may yet achieve more than ever before with properly targeted, intelligent digital campaigns – even with modest resources.

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