Report: PRCA State of Digital PR

I’m really late getting around to posting this, but last month Ketchum’s Danny Whatmough presented the findings of the PRCA’s State of Digital PR report.

The report, which surveyed 136 agency and in-house teams, highlights a number of key themes which for those in and observing the UK’s PR industry should make interesting findings.

It’s a good report but at the moment I just want to pull out a couple of revealing results:

  • Nearly half (46%) of PR practitioners surveys spend only 1-10% of their budget on digital
  • The top activity that measly budget is spent on is web design and build
  • Followed by social media monitoring
  • … and then SEO

I find this interesting partly as while optimists might say that PR is adapting is also highlights the fact that the core digital services undertaken by PR agencies overlap with wider – perhaps more specialised – sectors.

Great that PR is competing on more levels, but does it have the specialist knowledge to compete and win? See my previous post about PR, social media and specialisation.


  1. Simon, interesting I must have missed this Danny knows his stuff and this presentation certainly highlights some interesting factors. The biggest worrying factor for me is the PR industry is dragging its heels complaining whilst the SEO bods are investing their 20K a month into new ways to get coverage and links. We are the specialists we are good PR people but I hope we don’t get left behind. I think it’s still an interesting time for the industry but we are now in the maturing phase I think.

    • simoncollister says:

      Hi Chris. The industry is definitely maturing – and that is increasingly pushing social down more controlled and commercially focused routes (e.g. paid media, semi-professional bloggers, sponsored content). I think it’s fair to say that most PR agencies haven’t got to grips with some of the older, more organic social media stuff. I know of big, renowned agencies using free Twitter tools to see how much reach their media campaign got. All crude stuff.

      But, of course, some of the bigger and/or smarter PR agencies do get the changes and are adapting. But they’re increasingly looking less like PR agencies (in some similar ways to how smart ad agencies are looking less like conventional ad agencies). And I suppose that’s what disruption and consolidation looks like!

      Congrats on the new agency btw. :)

  2. It is odd that so few people recognise the power of social media.

    Lets take an example.

    Big Data says that 53% of Grayling employees use LinkedIn and a further 150% claim to have been employed by the agency as their last job. This is typical data and shows that the PR industry may not have a very powerful interest in digital interactivity but employees do as does the rest of the world. These data tell us that Grayling is a good training ground. Probably a good place to go and recruit staff too. Of the 33 people who service the Samsung account, and are LinkedIn members 9 are resident in London. Of course I did not get this information from a computer but a telephone (well, OK a mobile device – a thing).

    Digital PR has now gone beyond social media and into the realms of BigData (as above and with all the insights that come with it), semantics and the Internet of Things. It is just such a pity that so much of the industry is about to die as the world moves beyond their comprehension.

    In the last month, I have set up a research company to service these needs and don’t expect huge numbers of PR people to be customers. The information we are getting is just amazing.

    • simoncollister says:

      Hi David

      I’ve been having this conversation with a few people recently…… While ad, media planning and manageent consultancies are buying into data and analytics in a big way, many PR people are still looking at how many retweets their coverage got.

      What’s your company called? Would be good to have a chat! :)

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