The Public Relations Strategist

In Closing: A Continued Convergence of Marketing and Public Relations

April 24, 2017

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According to USC Annenberg’s 2017 Global Communications Report, PR and marketing functions continue to converge, with 87 percent of the respondents saying the term “public relations” won’t accurately describe their work in five years.

As the report shows, some see “public relations” as an outdated phrase because of its continued connection to marketing. Almost half of the 800 communicators surveyed believe that the PR profession will converge with marketing, with only 8 percent sensing that public relations has a future as a distinct and separate function. Marketers feel the same way — 57 percent see the two functions as more aligned in years ahead, and 20 percent predict that public relations will become a subset of marketing.

“Monitoring this trend toward convergence, and understanding its implications, is one of the most critical issues facing the public relations industry today,” Fred Cook, director of the USC Center for Public Relations and chairman of Golin, said when announcing the results on March 30. “We’re seeing a lot of consolidation on both the agency and corporate fronts, which has the potential to diminish the role of the PR professional.”

Despite the possible identity changes, the survey suggests a bright future for public relations after all — almost all (92 percent) agency executives predict growth in the next five years, while 70 percent of in-house executives forecast an increase in their budgets and headcounts. — Dean Essner

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