LONDON--PR professionals believe that the communications function remains excluded from the top table of senior management, according to new research by Hotwire and the Holmes Report.

The report, which the Holmes Report conducted by polling senior global communications executives, found 59 percent of respondents who think that PR does not have a seat at the top table of senior management. 84 percent of executives rate communications as the function that has the most influence on corporate reputation.

In spite of the lack of senior management representation, 50 per cent of senior communications professionals have experienced a budget increase in 2011, compared to 2010. This is a welcome development for the industry reflecting the expanding remit that many communications functions are being asked to take on.

The research is part of Hotwire’s international series of Innovation in Communications conferences, which kicked off last week in London and will also take place in Paris, Sydney and Munich.

46 per cent of respondents stated that PR has the greatest influence over social media, compared to 36 per cent who rated marketing as the most influential. When it comes to allocating resources, more than a quarter (27 percent) still spends less than 10 per cent of their budget on digital and social media. However, the majority of senior communications professionals now spend between 10 and 20 percent in this area alone.

The research also looked at the impact social media is having on locally and globally coordinated communications. 22 per cent of senior communications professionals stated that social media has led to more locally controlled PR initiatives whereas 22 per cent felt that it had created more globally-led campaigns.

Brendon Craigie, CEO, Hotwire Group, said: “These are incredibly exciting times for the communications industry. Digital and social media has put the spotlight on the communications function and the stage is set for PR to sit at the top table within more organisations. For this to happen we need to think bigger, be more sophisticated in how we measure success, and be bold in the manner we seize opportunities.”