Over the years, the industry of public relations has played a crucial role in helping businesses in terms of popularity, branding, and credibility efforts. In 2023, it continues to constantly balance a number of moving parts, such as media shifts, consumer behavior, industry trends, and technology advances. Between all of these things, the world of PR continues to grow and has seen a massive change over the years; all thanks to the environment of a 24/7 news cycle paired with cultural events. With the industry being more relevant today, here are interesting statistics this 2023:
- The public relations industry is continuously growing in terms of market value. The US and UK are dominating the list of fastest-growing PR companies globally. The US alone has 57,416 PR-related companies;
- The majority of PR agencies are hopeful that their clients will increase their budget in 2024, but brands are not expecting any budget increases in PR/Communications departments. In fact, most brands are expecting a significant decrease in their PR budget;
- The rise of fake news put credibility as one of the main challenges journalists face today;
- The majority of pitches journalists receive every day are highly irrelevant and unusable. Most journalists today look for pitches that contain data and multimedia;
- From the perspective of PR professionals, the main challenge is getting a response from journalists;
- AI is becoming the most common tool used in PR companies–especially in smaller ones, but plenty of PR pros are still skeptical or feel it’s risky to use AI in content;
- Journalists want pitches that are relevant to the subject they always write about and they instantly delete marketing-brochure-sounding pitches that contain marketing jargon;
- Plenty of journalists are planning to use LinkedIn and TikTok more this 2023;
- PR professionals mostly rely on placements to measure their success, while journalists look at viewership and readership;
The Public Relations Industry at a Glance
Despite the constant changes in consumer trends and behavior, strategies, and communication management, the public relations industry has evolved into a billion-dollar industry worldwide. However, one thing remains the same–the intention of conveying an image a company wants to present to the public. Here’s a quick overview of the public relations industry:
The PR market is expected to grow by approximately $107.05 billion this 2023.
Last year, the market grew to around $100.4 billion, which is 6.6% less than the 2023 forecast. The market value is expected to grow annually at a compound annual growth rate of 5.7% and by 2027, the PR market will be worth about $133.82 billion.
Press releases are considered one of the most trustworthy sources for gathering and validating information.
About 20% of journalists believe that press releases are trustworthy sources for validating information. Major newswires, such as Bloomberg, Reuters, and AP, are trusted by 27% of journalists, making them the top one in the list of most trustworthy sources; followed by industry experts–who, 23% of journalists believe are also great sources of accurate and relevant information.
About 85% of PR professionals reported that media relations constitute at least 25% of their job. Media relations also dominate the time of 83% of brands and 89% of PR agencies.
We start to see variations in each of their secondary focuses. For 51% of PR pros, thought leadership comes next after media relations. Corporate communications is the secondary focus for 48% of brands. And for 57% of PR agencies, thought leadership is also the second most important focus.
As of February 2023, there are 57,416 public relations firms and businesses in the United States.
This number has grown over the past five years from 2018 to 2023, with an average of 4.6% growth per year. All thanks to the positive economic outlook, which will likely increase in the next few years due to economic recovery that will enable companies to expand the need for PR services.
Most of the PR firms in the United States are located in California.
About 10,992 PR firms are based in the state of California. New York comes second with 7,156 businesses focused on PR and Florida with 4,106 PR companies.
PR companies are more reliant on labor than capital. Given that the work of a PR pro is labor intensive, wages make up 43.3% of a U.S. PR company’s cost structure. Purchases only make up 4.3% of the overall costs, while rent and utilities make up 4.5% of the total.
The fastest movers in the public relations industry are mostly located in the US and UK.
Plenty of US- and UK-based PR agencies dominate the list of fastest-growing PR agencies globally. Ranking first place is Salient Global, a US data consultancy company, with a growth of about $4.9 million. Ascend Agency, Spool Marketing & Communications, Firehouse Strategies, and Wachsman are other US-based agencies that dominate the ranking, placing third, tenth, thirteenth, and fifteenth, respectively. UK-based agency Boldspace ranked fifth among the fastest-growing agencies with constant growth of 148.1% and a revenue of about $3.7 million. Other UK-based agencies on the list include The Digital Voice, Premier, Fight or Flight, and 3Thinkrs, placing seventh, eighth, ninth, and eleventh, respectively.
Budgets and Salaries
Let’s talk about money–budget is critical in PR. The same goes for salary since PR is a labor-intensive job. Like in any other industry, investments are important in PR, whether it’s the clients’ budgets or employees’ salaries. Here are some stats related to budgets and salaries in PR:
The average salary of PR pros in the U.S. is $85,000.
In PR agencies, the average salary of a PR pro is $80,000. PR professionals working for brands tend to receive more with an average of $100,000.
Both brands and PR agencies are expecting their clients’ budgets for PR and Communications to remain the same.
About 45% of PR agencies and 44% of brands are expecting their clients’ budgets to stay the same in 2024. More PR agencies, however, are expecting the budget to increase (39%), while only 33% of brands are hopeful for an increase. However, more brands are expecting a decrease in PR and Communications budget in 2024 (23%), which is significantly higher than PR agencies (16%).
In most PR companies, it’s the CEO who decides on PR spending.
About 38% of PR professionals reported that the CEOs of their companies are the one who decides how they use their budgets for PR and Communications. In 18% of companies, these are decided by the VP/Director of PR and Communications.
Challenges and Priorities of Journalists
Journalists are an important component of the PR industry as they are the ones who help build trust by reporting and publishing accurate and fair content. In addition, they offer PR pros the opportunity to state the truth and share their expertise with a wide range of audiences. However, this year, journalists have experienced challenges related to public relations, which changed their priorities. Here are some of the most significant changes that happened and are happening this 2023:
Maintaining credibility is the number one challenge of 27% of journalism as the issue of fake news is continuously rising in an increasingly saturated media landscape.
At the same time, about 13% of journalists reported that battling misinformation has become one of their challenges. About 38% of journalists are trying to keep up because of the continuous downsizing and fewer resources they have in the last 12 months.
Ensuring accurate content, audience perception, and providing a voice for critical issues are ranked as the top three priorities of journalists and editors.
About 58% of journalists spend their time validating information to make sure it’s accurate, 14% of journalists look into audience perception as they consider it a trusted news source, and about 11% of journalists and editors are looking for critical issues that impact communities and prioritize being the voice of said issues.
About 68% of journalists rely on PR professionals for original research, trends, and market data.
Journalists not only rely on data, but they also rely on what PR professionals will provide to them. About 66% of respondents said that data and expert sources provided by PR professionals make their jobs easier. The more access to data journalists can get, the more PR professionals are putting themselves in a position to become in-demand partners of the media.
More than half (61%) of journalists get 100 pitches a week, sometimes, more.
This only means that journalists can easily receive 20 pitches a day. However, most of these pitches are irrelevant, therefore, disruptive.
Most of the pitches journalists receive are considered irrelevant and disruptive.
Only 1% of journalists consider the pitches they receive in a day as 75% to 100% relevant. The majority of journalists (73%) only receive a maximum of 25% relevant pitches, some don’t even get relevant ones.
This year, the relationship between PR pros and journalists varies.
About 18% of journalists stated that their relationships with communication professionals have become more valuable last year. However, 16% of journalists reported that their relationships with PR pros have gotten worse.
To shape their editorial strategy, about 40% of journalists are relying more on data this year.
They’ll consider various forms of data as resources, such as views, engagement, and demographic data. These forms of data reportedly help journalists in terms of informing which content to produce, creating enriching content, and measuring success.
In terms of how journalists use data, around 43% of journalists are using data visualization in their work.
The inclusion of web polls and surveys in the content has been used by at least 34% of journalists. Meanwhile, 37% of journalists will never consider covering a product, unless the pitch they received includes data that shows trends and issues the product can solve for their readers. This notes that multimedia usage has increased among journalists and that they’re more likely to consider a pitch that contains some type of multimedia.
Further, in terms of data visualization, 23% of journalists say they want to receive infographics from PR pros and organizations. About 21% of journalists want images and logos included in the pitch, while only 12% are interested in video clips.
Challenges and Priorities of PR Professionals
Like journalists, PR pros have their fair share of challenges in this ever-changing media landscape. These challenges, however, are mostly related to professional relationships and pitching. With these challenges present, the priorities of PR professionals have started to shift as well. Here are the most significant issues and changes among PR pros in 2023:
Getting responses from journalists tops the list of the main challenges PR agencies are facing today.
About 59% of agencies reported that their main concern is getting journalists to respond to their pitches as opposed to brands (46%). About 55% of brands are more concerned about having enough resources, such as budget and people, compared to agencies (42%). If we’re looking at these numbers from PR professionals’ perspective, getting responses from journalists still tops the list.
The majority of PR professionals expect earned media to be harder to secure over the next five years.
About 71% of PR pros think that over the next five years, it will be somewhat or much more difficult to secure earned media or free content that is generated using organic methods.
According to thousands of PR pros, time, approach, and quality are highly important in pitching.
Given that 91% of journalists prefer pitches sent over email, almost 90% of PR pros reported that they prefer sending pitches via 1:1 emails. Pitching on a Tuesday is highly preferred by 53% of PR pros. About 81% of the respondents also mentioned that it’s best to send a pitch before noon and 92% of these PR pros reported that they keep their pitches under 300 words.
The most acceptable time to start following up on a pitch is either after one or two days.
PR pros are actually split in terms of follow-ups–47% said that two days is acceptable, while 42% said that one is already acceptable. Regardless, 54% of PR pros send their first follow-up after three to six days.
Digital PR is the ultimate go-to for PR pros in terms of pitching.
About 90% of PR pros pitch to online/digital media. This year, nine out of 10 people commonly send their pitches to digital media, an increase of 14% from 2022.
PR agencies take a broader approach to pitching.
Aside from pitching to online/digital media, PR agencies diversify the type of media they work with. About 60% of agencies are more likely to pitch to magazines, 59% pitch to podcasts, 57% pitch to TV, 45% to newsletters, and 37% pitch to radios.
Despite the journalists’ need for data, PR pros believe that subject relevancy is the most important component of securing coverage.
For 33% of PR pros, pitches that are subject-relevant to the journalist are helpful in securing coverage. About 20% of respondents believe that personalization and previous relationships with journalists are highly beneficial. Only 4% of PR professionals believe that pitches containing data can help them secure coverage.
PR agencies and brands differ in techniques in terms of increasing the value of PR to stakeholders.
For 70% of PR pros working at brands, incorporating PR activities into business initiatives significantly increases the value of PR to stakeholders. Only 60% of PR agencies think so. PR agencies see more value in sourcing more coverage (62%) and providing creative solutions (31%). Both PR agencies and brands (66% collectively), however, know that producing measurable results will bring more value.
Tools and Tech
As the PR industry evolves, technology advances. With AI tools taking off and dominating multiple industries in 2022, it’s only a matter of time before they become a thing in PR. This year, more and more PR companies are starting to integrate AI into their workflow. But still, lots of PR professionals prefer using traditional tools. Here are some stats related to the tools and technology PR pros use in 2023:
Spreadsheets and dedicated PR software are the most common tools used to store media lists.
About 68% of PR companies use spreadsheets to store their media lists, while 64% use dedicated PR software, such as Muck Rack. The majority of PR companies that use spreadsheets are agencies (75%). Only 63% of brands rely on spreadsheets.
Media databases are the best places to find the right journalist to pitch to.
For PR pros (83%), using a media database, like Muck Rack, is the best way to find the right journalist. More than half of PR pros (59%) rely on Google search, while only 50% use their personal contact list. While social media is a good tool for PR, only 48% of PR pros use social media platforms to find journalists.
About 31% of PR companies are looking into the integration of AI in their workflow and processes within the next five years.
With the popularity of AI tools, plenty of PR pros, brands, and agencies are slowly incorporating them into their processes. In fact, 41% of C-suite employees have mentioned AI as one of the most important skills their companies need to focus on.
About 61% of PR pros are now using or planning to explore generative AI tools, such as ChatGPT or DALL-E, in their workflow.
Only a few, 15% of respondents, have no plans of using nor exploring these tools given that there’s a huge concern about the use of AI output.
In connection, 60% of PR people think that AI outputs are unscrutinized and lower the quality of conversations, making quality the top concern of PR pros when it comes to AI.
About 58% of PR pros reported that the use of AI for creating content and gathering data poses a risk for younger and newer PR professionals as they wouldn’t be able to learn the basic principles of the industry by relying heavily on generative AI tools. For 58% of the respondents, the use of AI tools poses a risk to the profession itself as clients will think that they wouldn’t need human creators anymore.
Around 68% of PR pros are planning to AI tools for research and list building if they ever decide to start using them.
More than half (52%) of PR pros think that AI will be impactful in writing. Only 36%, however, reported that AI will be impactful in terms of pitching.
In PR companies, it’s reported that employees at a higher level are most likely to use AI.
About 38% of C-suite employees are likely to use AI tools. PR company directors are almost at the same level with 29% of them using AI.
Smaller PR agencies are more likely to rely on AI tools, rather than larger PR companies.
About 31% of PR agencies with one to 49 employees are reported to use AI tools in their workflow, while only 26% of PR companies with more than 50 employees do so. And only 19% of companies with more than 500 employees are using AI work.
The use of AI is becoming more popular when it comes to writing tasks.
About 72% of PR pros who work at brands use AI for crafting their pitches, which is a lot greater than respondents coming from PR agencies (55%).
In the same vein, 48% of PR pros from both brands and agencies use AI for writing press releases and social copies.
And there are about 44% of PR professionals who use AI tools for their research.
Some PR professionals are concerned about how the audience will perceive AI-generated content.
About 33% of respondents are thinking that readers and viewers may get overwhelmed with the amount of content being generated, given that it’s so easy to create new content with AI. For this 33%, AI tools will make it harder to stand out among the competition.
Best Practices for Pitching
As challenges and priorities shift for both journalists and PR pros, pitching strategies change, too. Journalists stated what they want to get from PR pros, which should be put into practice this year. Here are some stats you might want to know in terms of pitching:
Journalists want PR pros to provide them with something fresh, interesting, and exclusive.
About 63% of journalists appreciate pitches that alert them about new or upcoming events and around 47% said they find it valuable when PR pros provide them with interesting story ideas. Around 58% of journalists reported that they like pitches that help them find sources. If you have exclusive information to share, you might want to consider pitching it because 46% of journalists find it very useful.
To make pitches less disruptive, 74% of journalists reported that PR pros should understand their target audience and what they consider ‘relevant’ to make their jobs easier as a journalist.
Around 66% of journalists want to receive pitches that contain expert sources and data. For 42% of them, understanding and respecting their deadlines are what makes their job easier.
Be careful of sending pitches that sound like marketing brochures.
More than half (57%) of journalists reported that they will block a PR pro that sends them marketing brochure-sounding and obvious clickbait pitches.
Journalists look for keywords and specific terms before deleting an email that contains a pitch.
Once journalists see marketing jargon in a pitch, they’ll consider deleting the message and blocking the communications professional. These ‘red flag’ keywords and phrases include “industry-leading”, “breaking news”, “groundbreaking”, “innovative”, and “urgent”.
Social Media Usage
Social media platforms are powerful tools for disseminating information and connecting with people. In the world of public relations, social media is where you can establish relevancy and professional relationships. Leveraging the power and reach of social media platforms can help PR pros and journalists achieve successful campaigns. Here are some things to know about social media usage in PR:
This year, 53% of PR pros are planning to use LinkedIn more, and 40% are looking to spend more time on TikTok.
It’s expected that Facebook will become less relevant this year with only 10% of professionals planning to use the platform more, and it’s the only form of social media that PR pros plan to use less (25%).
As LinkedIn is considered the new top social network for communication strategies, 88% of brands are using Linkedin social media and communications strategy. About 83% of PR agencies are using LinkedIn for the same purpose.
Instagram comes second with 79% of brands and 74% of PR agencies using it for communications. TikTok, however, doesn’t come close to these numbers since only 45% of brands and 39% of PR agencies are using it.
About 96% of journalists use social media for work-related purposes.
Most journalists are using social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter, for content promotion and engagement.
Only 44% of journalists use social media to pick up on trending topics.
The majority of journalists–70% are using social media for publishing or promoting content. About 66% of journalists, however, are using social media to source information and 52% are using it to monitor news, competitive media, and keywords.
Only 4% of journalists want to receive pitches through social media.
While social media has become a powerful tool for communication professionals to connect with journalists, only a tiny portion of journalists will want to receive pitches via social media. About 19% of journalists will block a PR professional on social media for reaching out unsolicited. That being said, 91% of journalists prefer receiving pitches via email, and 2% like to do phone calls.
Plenty of businesses from various industries work with PR companies. However, PR companies mostly work with two types of businesses:
Most PR companies (40%) cater to B2C and B2B businesses.
Only 30% of these companies sell to B2C businesses, while only 27% sell to B2B businesses. Most PR companies consider themselves PR agencies (55%), and 23% are brands.
As the number of PR companies increased over the years, achieving success in this industry has become more difficult due to the competition. But, it’s not impossible. Here’s how most PR pros and journalists measure their success:
Plenty of PR agencies rely on quantity as their measure of success.
Instead of relying on engagement and impact, PR agencies are more likely to measure their success based on the number of stories that are placed highly. Brands, on the other hand, ranked revenue as their number one indicator of success.
More than half of journalists measure their success through viewership or readership.
About 55% of journalists believe that the primary measure of their success is viewership or readership. Engagement is a high marker of success for 60% of them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why PR is more important than ever?
Nowadays, the media landscape is becoming more and more saturated, which somehow contributes to distorted public perception. For journalists, PR is more important than ever because maintaining credibility is the number one issue 27% of journalists are facing. For 13% of journalists, PR helps them battle misinformation. In addition, 20% of journalists believe that press releases are trustworthy sources for validating and gathering information.
How technology is changing PR?
With more modern and advanced tools, PR professionals can easily connect with journalists. This year, more than half (83%) of PR pros can easily connect with journalists and access large datasets using media databases, like Muck Rack. But other than media databases, AI tools are also becoming commonplace among PR pros. About 61% of PR pros are now using or at least planning to enlist the help of generative AI tools to make their workflow more seamless.
How do you measure PR effectiveness?
PR agencies, brands, and journalists measure PR effectiveness in different ways. For 55% of journalists, the success of a PR is measured through readership and viewership. For 60% of them, engagement is a huge indicator of PR effectiveness. Meanwhile, PR agencies base their effectiveness on the number of stories that are placed highly. Brands, on the other hand, ranked revenue as their top useful metric to measure PR effectiveness.
How can I improve PR?
Journalists want to receive pitches that contain fresh, interesting, and exclusive information. About 63% of journalists appreciate pitches that alert them about new or upcoming events and around 47% of journalists accept pitches that provide them with interesting information. Aside from these, it’s highly important that you understand what 75% of journalists consider ‘relevant’ as well as their target audience.
How did social media change PR?
Social media has become a source of information and for 52% of journalists, it’s a tool they use to monitor news, keywords, and competitive media. Aside from this, social media platforms have become a source of trending topics for 44% of journalists. For 53% of PR pros, social media has become a way to establish and nurture professional relationships that more than half of them are planning to use LinkedIn more. About 40% of PR pros are planning to leverage TikTok to find relevant topics.