A new insight on a potential identity crisis within the public relations industry has been exposed by research on the UK’s largest public relations agencies which reveals how they avoid describing themselves as ‘public relations’ at the heart of their brand publicity.
A Word Cloud Generator of the words used by the UK’s largest PR agencies in the ‘About Us’ of their web sites surprisingly the words ‘public relations’ were largely absent.
Instead, terms like communications, strategy and brand are most prevalent, followed by differentiators such as ‘independence’, ‘expertise’, or ‘creativity’ along with words about their stature such as ‘global, leading’ or ‘award-winning’ or specific areas of practice such as consumer, crisis, or digital.
The study undertaken by two public relations strategists and university lecturers, Robin Hamman with Andy Green. as part of a forthcoming campaign into the future of public relations.
Commenting on the study Robin Hamman said: “”It’s hard to think of any other industry where the leading brands omit to mention what it is the actually do in their corporate boilerplate statement. These results provide a valuable insight on a PR sector that is going through an identity crisis.”
Andy Green added: “The survey confirms much anecdotal evidence that failing to even use the term ‘public relations’ indicates a crisis of confidence and lack of self-belief about public relations, on what should be the cornerstone of their thinking and how they define themselves.”
The survey was conducted using the public relations industry’ trade publication PR Week’s list of the top 25 UK agencies – based on 2018 fee earnings.
The “about us” content from the agencies’ websites. Transferring the words to a Google Sheet, which was then then stripped of articles (a, an, the) and other words that didn’t contribute to description or meaning (and, is, etc).
The resulting body of text, which ran to approximately 1800 total words, was then run through a number of tools for analysis including an Open Calais, a semantic analysis tool owned by Thomson Reuters and the Word Cloud Generator at https://www.wordclouds.com/.
Here are the top twenty terms mentioned:
Lower down the list ‘marketing’ is mentioned five times with ‘Public Relations’ trailing with a meagre three references among the top 25 agencies.