Center for Public Relations Research

Leveraging connections from our expert faculty and Board of Advisers, the Center for Public Relations publishes research that forecasts trends that will impact the public relations industry, and predicts the skills future professionals will need to be successful practitioners. Our past reports have examined the rise of corporate activism, explored the future of use of AI in communications, discussed the evolution of ethics in our profession, and looked at causes that are relevant to communicators. Industry organizations that provide support by sharing our annual surveys include PRSA and PRSSA, the Institute for PR, Global Alliance, IABC, ICCO, and PRCA.

A person reading a report at an assembly.

Global Communication Report

The annual Global Communication Report is designed to provide insight into the evolution of the global communication industry by analyzing emerging trends. Past research has predicted the rise of new activists and assessed how to engage with activist organizations, reviewed the convergence in marketing and public relations, tracked the scale of change disrupting the PR industry, and examined the industry’s evolution of ethics and its future use of technology and artificial intelligence. 

Cover of the relevance report.

Relevance Report

The annual Relevance Report identifies emerging issues and forecasts topics and trends impacting society, business, and communication in the coming year. The book features contributions from PR industry leaders, and USC academics and graduate students. 

Tiktok phone

Ask Gen Z: A Deep Dive into the Next Gen’s Media Diet

This qualitative, mobile ethnographic study produced by Day One Agency and the Center for PR examines how Gen Z consumes news, and their definition of influence. The study uncovers that Gen Z’s relationship with information consumption has fundamentally changed when comparing their habits to their parents and previous generations. And it’s more than where they’re consuming news; it’s also about what, when, how, and why they’re engaging with content today.


Fascinated and Frightened: An AI Readiness Playbook

In partnership with WE Communications, the May 2023 report “Fascinated and Frightened: How are communications professionals viewing the AI opportunity ahead?” analyzes a survey of 400 U.S. communications leaders to understand their expectations on AI and the impact it will have on the industry. 

Laptop on call

The Polarization Index

The USC Polarization Index, launched in October 2020, measured the changing levels of polarization in the American discourse by assessing social media shares of relevant news stories, cross-referenced by categories of media outlets that range in reliability and political bias.

Brand purpose communication

Brand Purpose Report

The USC Center for Public Relations has conducted a study, in collaboration with PRWeek, focused on identifying trends and best practices for brand purpose. Reviewing the 2019 PRWeek Purpose Award Entries, the comprehensive study highlights how brands can effectively engage in purposeful campaigns and become authentic purpose-based brands with tips for future PR campaigns.