This report summarizes the results from the eighth biennial Communication and Public Relations Generally Accepted Practices (GAP VIII) Study by the USC Annenberg Strategic Communication and Public Relations Center (SCPRC). The purpose of the GAP Study is to provide senior communicators with timely guidance as they manage their organizations, develop strategy, and prepare for the future. Participants included the most senior communications professionals in corporations, government agencies and non-profit organizations. This first report focuses on data from corporate respondents only.
A total of 347 senior communicators completed all 50 questions in the study, which was supported by all four of the leading U.S. professional associations in the field: Arthur W. Page Society, Institute for Public Relations (IPR), International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). GAP VIII was also supported by a financial grant from Edelman.
Budget increases are more the norm: While flat or reduced PR/Communication budgets were the norm during the recession, the industry has now entered a much healthier, multi-year post recession period in which companies reporting budget increases outnumber those reporting reduced or flat budgets. In fact, in 2014 40% of public company respondents expected their PR/Communication budgets to increase over 2013 levels, while 25% expected no change and 35% expected decreases. In 2013, 60% experienced budget increases over 2012, while 17% experienced no change and 23% experienced decreases.
Staffs are growing: Consistent with the improved budget scenario, the 40% of respondents experiencing staff growth in 2014 over 2013 outnumbered those expecting flat or reduced staff size. 38% reported staff growth in 2013 over 2012. Industries in which the majority of respondents expected staff growth in 2014 include energy, natural resources, finance, insurance, manufacturers/marketers of B-to-B products, professional services, retailing, and transportation/shipping.