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The Future of Public Relations: Trends, Skills, PR vs. Marketing

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Public relations professionals say digital storytelling and social listening are the trends that will most influence the future of the field, according to recent research from the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations and the Association of National Advertisers.

The report was based on data from a survey of 875 public relations professionals (63% work for an agency; 37% work in-house) as well as data from a survey of 101 in-house marketers.

Public relations professionals say digital storytelling is the biggest future PR trend (88% cite it as important).

Social listening ranks second (82%) among PR professionals, followed by social purpose (71%) and Big Data (70%).

Marketers say social listening is the biggest future trend (88% cite it as important).


Some 47% of agency PR professionals and 45% of in-house PR professionals say public relations will become more aligned with marketing in the next five years.

Public relations professionals say the most important skills for future growth are strategic planning (89% cite it as important), written communications (86%), social media (84%), multimedia content development (82%), and verbal communications (80%).

About the research: The report was based on data from a survey of 875 public relations professionals (63% work for an agency; 37% work in-house) as well as data from a survey of 101 in-house marketers.


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Ayaz Nanji is an independent digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Content, a marketing agency specializing in content creation for brands and businesses. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji

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  • by Linda Tue May 23, 2017 via mobile

    Public relations is becoming more important than before

  • by Carol Wolicki Sat May 27, 2017 via web

    "Digital storytelling?" Really? That's the most important skill PR people need? Eddie Bernays, the father PR, is probably screaming at the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations for publishing this research. They should know better. Geez. No wonder PR gets such a bad rap and is so devalued.

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