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PRSA Business Leaders Survey

Transformative changes in media and technology are leaving many business leaders behind, especially when it comes to mobilizing corporate communications to manage brand reputations, gain consumer trust and achieve strategic business objectives.

To help address this widening knowledge gap, PRSA is working to bolster the strategic communication coursework offered in today’s MBA programs.

Survey: Communications a ‘Vital Skill’ for Today’s Business Leaders

With faith in business and government institutions waning and the reputations of even the most venerable brands at risk, corporate communications has emerged as an essential skill set for C-level executives in the 21st Century.

The results of a survey of 204 American business leaders (vice president and above), unveiled at the PRSA 2011 International Conference, underscore these new realities. Funded by MWW Group, the survey found that 93 percent of business leaders believe public relations is just as important to their companies as other forms of communication, including advertising and marketing.

The responsibility for communicating effectively is not confined solely to public relations departments and agencies. Nearly all the business leaders surveyed think CEOs themselves should understand the role of corporate reputation management (97 percent) and that it’s also important for C-level executives to have a working knowledge of basic public relations skills (98 percent).

Despite acknowledging public relations’ importance, 9 in 10 business leaders (94 percent) admit that the senior executives within their companies need additional training in core communication disciplines, such as reputation management and corporate communication.

Other key findings from the survey, conducted by Kelton Research, include:

  • An overwhelming majority of the executives (98 percent) believe that business schools should incorporate instruction on corporate communications and reputation management strategy into MBA curricula.
  • While 59 percent of business leaders say their companies have hired recent MBA grads within the last three years, only 4 in 10 find the skill sets of these grads to be extremely strong in the areas of building and protecting the company’s reputation (41 percent) and credibility (40 percent). 
  • Nearly every executive (97 percent) says it’s important for CEOs to have a well-developed understanding of the role of corporate reputation management. A similar number (98 percent) say executives at any level of their organizations should have such an understanding. 
  • Nearly all business leaders (98 percent) believe it will be important in the future for corporations to have senior managers with a working knowledge of building and protecting a company’s credibility. And 96 percent say it also will be important for these individuals to have a working knowledge of building and protecting a company’s reputation.

More information on the PRSA MBA Initiative and this survey is available by contacting PRSA's public relations department at or (212) 460-0347.