Gini Dietrich

Marketwired Survey Shows PR Industry Still Behind

By: Gini Dietrich | January 6, 2016 | 

Marketwired Survey Shows PR Industry Still BehindBy Gini Dietrich

Just before the holidays, Are You a Content Machine?, a Marketwired survey, was released.

I took the survey in October and, when I saw the questions, I told them I was interested in seeing the results…for two reasons:

  1. They asked if PR professionals are using the PESO model; and
  2. They asked what is being measured.

When they released the results, they focused on whether or not PR pros plan to increase their content marketing efforts this year (they do), but I’m still more interested in the two points above.

Marketwired Survey Says

Before we get there, though, the other Marketwired survey results are rather interesting. See if it matches your plans:

  • PR and marketing professionals are using an expanding range of content in their communications: Blog posts (55%), photos (29%), and news releases (24%) were identified as the content used most frequently by respondents. Newsletters, video, infographics and white papers were also named, along with case studies, webinars and tip sheets.
  • A notable 61 percent of respondents said they are using influencers and brand advocates to help amplify their content, reach new audiences and increase engagement. For those who answered “no” to using influencers, they commonly cited budget and/or resource restrictions and not knowing where to start with an influencer program as their primary challenges.
  • Half of respondents use visuals on a weekly basis to support their content efforts, and an impressive 30 percent do so daily. As consumers increasingly look for relevant and engaging multimedia content, it’s no surprise that PR and marketing pros are answering the call by producing and sharing photos, video, infographics and other visual content with their audiences.
  • PR and marketing pros are taking advantage of opportunities to connect with and engage their audiences across multiple platforms. Twitter (75%), Facebook (73%), and LinkedIn (63%) are the most commonly used social channels for sharing visual content (video, photos, and infographics). Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest are popular choices as well, and social networking newcomers Snapchat, Periscope, Vine, and Meerkat also made the list.

OK, so blog posts, Twitter and Facebook, influencers, and visuals are all really important to the industry.

Very good.

But what are we doing that is new or innovative?

It turns out…not much.

Earned Media Reigns Supreme

When asked which of part of the PESO model was most important to their communications programs, it was not surprising to see earned media ranked number one—36 percent said it is the most important.

Owned media followed a close second with 33 percent saying they are using it consistently.

What’s disappointing, though, is only 17 percent said they’re using paid media and only 16 percent said they’re using shared media.

The latter is rather shocking, considering pretty much everyone has at least one social network today. Perhaps it’s a case of “get us a Facebook page” and when no one showed up there, they stopped posting.

What I’d like to see in a future survey is what the mix of use is for PESO. In other words, is it an even 25 percent split (that’d be ideal) or will earned always be 50 percent or more, with owned following closely behind?

As an industry, we should push to see an even split…someday.

Marketwired Survey PESO Model

Reach is Not Measurement

What’s worse, though, is the type of “measurement” the industry is doing.

I guess I can’t really complain…at least we’ve graduated from impressions and advertising equivalencies.


Measuring reach and engagement is not measurement. And, web analytics isn’t really measurement, either, unless you’re using analytics to dig into what people are doing and buying.

Marketwired Survey Measurement

Yes, you need to know if your content is resonating. Reach and engagement will tell you that.

Yes,  you need to know if people come to your website and stay there. Analytics will tell you that.

But then what?

How are you measuring wether or not your content is driving qualified leads? How are you measuring whether or not it’s helping to convert those leads to sales?

In fairness, there were a few respondents who get it:

Marketwired Survey Measurement

Granted, I think I’m the one who said, “I want to show we are an investment, not an expense.” But the person in the blue and yellow quotes get it. They really get it!

The PR Industry Gets a C-

The industry has a long, long way to come. It’s rather disappointing because those of you who read Spin Sucks are already there. We have, after all, been talking about this for years.

And yet, we’re still stuck on vanity metrics and media relations.

No wonder people equate PR to getting their name in print. The PR industry hasn’t changed, so why should executives think differently?

What do you think? Will we ever get there?

If you’re interested, you can find the full Marketwired infographic here.

image credits: Shutterstock and Marketwired

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • I’d have to read the report, and see the survey participants breakdown. But keep in mind that MarketWired is predominantly for PR and comms pros that would give exactly the kind of answers shared here.
    There needs to be a true external, third party survey across multiple agency and corporate disciplines, of all sizes and services, to get a more accurate representation of the industry. This includes global data.
    Given, I haven’t read the report, so I’ll come back and amend my comment if necessary.

  • Danny Brown But that’s the point…PR and comms pros are not making the shift like they need to. The industry, as a whole, is way behind the other marketing disciplines. We’re still measuring the wrong things. Why do reach and engagement matter?

    I will say this: The survey was only 100 respondents so it’s not totally indicative of the entire industry, but I would say—combined with anecdotal information—this is pretty much the case.

  • susancellura

    Just glancing through this – I wonder if you, ginidietrich , will be putting together a class on measurement? “How are you measuring whether or not your content is driving qualified
    leads? How are you measuring whether or not it’s helping to convert
    those leads to sales?”  I struggle with measurement and how to do it correctly.


  • susancellura

    ginidietrich Sorry!  Maybe it’s because you are such an awesome coach that I’ve begun to think like you?  🙂

  • ginidietrich Hmm, I struggle to take seriously any “survey” that only includes 100 respondents. Especially for a company the size of MarketWired.
    Heck, SamFiorella and I had our agencies run a survey of PR pros, marketers, advertisers, agencies, etc, for the pre-launch of our book, and we used over 1,300 respondents (from a return of just under 2,000 applicants). It’s not hard to get a more qualitative sample.

  • NightclubGenius

    SpinSucks Nonsense.Every day excellent, powerful,high impact PR is reported, covered, shown, discussed, in every form Media.Grade is an “A”

  • ginidietrich

    NightclubGenius I suppose you didn’t read the blog post?

  • susancellura Bahahahahaha!

  • garykarr

    ginidietrich it shifts big time when agency and in-house folks refuse to give in to client exec over-emphasis on earned media placements.

  • ginidietrich

    garykarr Yes! Totally agree!

  • NightclubGenius

    ginidietrich I read the rambling and ranting. I stand by 40 yrs of excellence in PR. Happy New Year. Best PR Too !

  • garykarr

    ginidietrich My experience is that few PR leaders are willing to say ‘no’ however.

  • ginidietrich

    garykarr It’s hard, but it has to happen. It’s just like anything else…you can’t be all things to all people.

  • garykarr

    ginidietrich Totally agree. People get nervous about losing $ though.

  • ginidietrich

    garykarr Which is understandable, but I’ve found the money comes when you work in your best area of expertise. Don’t you think?

  • garykarr

    ginidietrich Yes, plus the ROI from truly balancing PESO is better than the $ spent if you lean too much on ego-feeding earned media.

  • ginidietrich

    garykarr Amen, amen, amen! I want to make a meme of that!

  • What? Only 16 percent are using shared media and 17 percent paid media? Oh, my. How can you move forward if you don’t adapt to today’s realities? And more importantly how or what kind of results you deliver to execs?
    I think a course to educate PR pros is in order here.

  • Corina Manea The problem, of course, is the people who read this blog are probably the 16 percent who DO use it. We need to reach a broader audience.

  • ginidietrich True. We need to think how to do that.

  • MatataBlue

    SpinSucks thanks for sharing Spin Sucks, have a great Thursday 🙂 (insight by

  • The engagement thing is hard. I have decided having the message seen is number one importance because no one sees your message/content etc you can’t have any effect. Measuring the effects of your messaging (engagement, shares, sales) is trickier but that is obviously of next importance.

  • Hi Gini! Thanks for this post and your interest in our “Are You a #ContentMachine?” survey. I’ll add a bit of context and colour around the survey itself – why we did it, who answered, and what we learned. 

    We (Marketwired) wanted a quick pulse check of some of the challenges and opportunities for PR & marketing folks when it comes to content, influencers, social media, and measurement. Over the past year, we’ve talked to a lot of our customers about how to blend traditional and social PR, how to get started with influencer marketing, and how to connect the dots between activity and real business impact – qualified leads, increased sales, etc. So, we asked a handful of directional questions and got some pretty interesting answers that help us better understand where to focus our own marketing and product activities in 2016.

    Logistically, just over 100 respondents (as you note in the post) answered our 13-question online survey; PR, marketing and comms pros (a mix of solo practitioners, AEs, Directors, VPs) from corporate PR/marketing departments, agencies, private shops and non-profits. We didn’t ask demographic questions on geography, company size or revenue. 

    Our biggest takeaway from the results is that we want more results! What we did ask only scratches the surface of what we could ask, and what we want to learn more about. The question on measurement could be a valuable survey of its own… (Light bulb!) PR and marketing are changing so fast, and so furiously, and it’s tough to keep up. But I’m keeping the faith and trusting that with more education, experimentation and focus on what really matters to a business, we will only get better.

    2016 is going to be an interesting year!

    Lisa Davis, Marketwired

  • lisa_davis I agree a measurement survey would be really good. I’d also love to see more on the PESO model (perhaps we partner on a survey—talk about a light bulb moment!) and how people are not only building content, but integrating it with the other media types. As you know, I get very frustrated with our industry. We shouldn’t be measuring reach and engagement. We should be measuring sales.

  • Howie Goldfarb It’s a lot easier than it used to be. I remember hiring research firms and paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to measure the effects of our messaging.