The Research- Big Questions & Inspiration
Charting the future of public relations
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The Research, Part 3: The Big Questions & Inspiration 

Influence 100: Introduction & Methodology 
The Profiles | Who Are the 100 & Their Early Years Teams, Budgets & Agencies | The Big Questions & InspirationThe Crossover Stars | The Rising Stars

The following research is based on responses from a survey sent to this year's Influence 100, and when applicable, our own analysis and research. Because of rounding, some percentages might exceed 100%. 

The Big Questions: Measurement, Analytics & Diversity  

How does your CEO evaluate PR/communications?

Evaluate-2017

This year, for the first time, we asked respondents how their CEOs evaluate their function. Reputation benchmarking, by far, came out on top. Interestingly, one of the options — sales and lead generation — garnered no responses. Several respondents, however, did indicate their CEOs evaluate PR/communications using "all of the above." Other notable responses: 

"A mix of external and internal analytics. No single measure or methodology."

"A variety of ways including all the above mentioned plus others like speed of adaption to change by employees [internal coms], strategic advancement of a specific narrative externally etc."

"All of the above plus tactical analytics."

"Support business growth, investor confidence, reputation."

"On our ability to help enable business outcomes as part of integrated teams."

Business Spend 

All of the respondents have considerable input on how much their organizations spend on communications. When asked the same question about marketing spend, only 60% report having considerable input on spend— 18% do not have input (the rest answered neutrally). Perhaps most notably, 36% report having considerable input on overall business spend at their organizations — 33% don't feel they have an input and the remaining were neutral. 

Analytics 

This year, we also explored the way organizations are using data & analytics to drive and evaluate their marketing and communications efforts. Here's what we found: 

- 30% of respondents always use data to allocate resources and spend, meanwhile 50% do this either usually (27%) or about half the time (23%). Only 20% report rarely using data to allocate their resources and spend.

- 79% use data and analytics for research and planning always (38%) or most of the time (41%), 14% do this about half the time and 7% do so rarely.

- When it comes to using data to alter the course of a campaign in real-time, 62% of respondents do this always (28%) or usually (34%) while 17% do this about half the time and 20% do so rarely.

- 80% of respondents use data and analytics to measure the business impact of their efforts, the rest do this about half the time (13%) or rarely (7%). 

The Future CCO 

Also new this year, we asked respondents their prediction for the future of the CCO role. "The CCO role will continue to grow in importance and influence," said one respondent. "Comms and reputation management are on the rise: marketing is struggling to find its new mission in post-brand advertising world where the 30-second TV spot has been made redundant." 

"As the lines between Comms and Marketing continue to blur, as people engage and consume information from an ever-changing array of sources, and the need to demonstrate ROI increases, the CCO role must adapt/be adapted to succeed and thrive in a 'post-PR' world," said another respondent. "Increasingly the CCO is leveled to report to the CMO. This trend should worry all of us in the industry."


"It is a strategic business role in any forward looking organisation and essentially he/she is part of the leadership team," said Roma Balwani. 

"The importance of a company's reputation on its financial success will continue to rise in direct proportion to how fragile reputations have become," said MaryLynn Carver. "Certainly the social media echo-chamber and 'fake news' are playing a role in this fragility, but we are also seeing extreme polarization of key stakeholders' expectations. The CCO role is unique in that it is often the only c-suite entity that has visibility across the company and across external stakeholders to connect the dots and see around corners."

Diversity


This year, we also asked the Influence 100 for their perspectives on diversity. After some companies have started requiring their agencies to be more representative, we wondered if this could be a more widespread trend. Among the respondents, 81% agree their agency must have an ethnically diverse account team (12.5% agree strongly) and 19% were neutral to the statement. Just over 56% of respondents agree the industry is committed to retaining and promoting people of color and women while 44% were neutral to this statement. 

"PR does not have a problem with women in positions of power except at the very top of large, international agencies," said one respondent. "In fact, I think communications is an area more college men should be encouraged to consider." Another lamented about the lack of talent in the APAC region.

The Inspiration

Best & Worst Communicators Among World Leaders

Best Worst-2017 Artboard 24-2017

Which company (other than your own) manages its reputation most effectively?


Reputation Management-2017

Which public relations agency do you most admire/respect?


Admire-2017 Brands & Companies
Asked to identify companies, other than their own, that managed brand communications and corporate reputation most effectively, the list, once again, showed continuity of year's past — reinforcing  the lasting the effects of a well-managed reputation. Among the returning names, Southwest Airlines, Unilever, J&J, Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, BMW, GE, Nike, IBM, Mahindra Group, Apple, Google and Facebook, somewhat surprising considering its challenging news cycle after the US presidential election. New this year were MasterCard, Hero Motors, Amazon, Microsoft, Diageo, Netflix, Saint Gobain, VW (returning to the list after fading last year), Tata Group and BHP Billiton. 

World Leaders & Communicators 
For this first time, former US president Barack Obama wasn't named among the most best communicators. When it comes to world leaders, new players Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau and French president Emmanuel Macron emerged as some of the best communicators. Among the most admired communicators from the geopolitical and spiritual sphere were German chancellor Angela Merkel, Pope Francis — who returns to the list after being absent last year — Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and the Dalia Lama made the list. Among other leaders Michael Bloomberg, Sheryl Sandberg and Dr. Ichak Adizes were named.

Meanwhile, US president Donald Trump joins Russian president Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as the worst communicators among today's world leaders. "Donald Trump is too emotional and petty and is harming the US from a diplomacy standpoint," said one respondent. One respondent listed Trump as both the worst and best communicator. This is a notable shift from Obama who consistently appeared on the list as one of the best communicators. 

The most influential marketing/communications list was, once again, dominated by men. Moreover, not a single female in the communications or marketing sector were named among the most influential. IBM's Jon Iwata was listed several times along with WPP head Sir Martin Sorrell and Richard Edelman. Among others listed were Nike's head of global marketing John Slusher, Airbnb CMO Jonathan Mildenhall, McKinsey's Steve John, Unilever's Keith Weed, Tim Cook and Apple's Johnny Ives, and Jeff Bezos. One respondent named Sean Spicer adding that "and that creates lots of challenges for the profession." (The survey was dispatched before Spicer resigned.) 

Agencies
Edelman is— for now the fifth year in a row —  the most frequently cited public relations agency when respondents were asked which firm they most admired. Other firms with repeat mentions include Brunswick, WE Communications, Burson-Marsteller, Ketchum and WE Communications. A few respondents lamented about their agency options — "not many are really distinguishing themselves" and "no single agency stands out," they said.