Global Communication Report

The annual Global Communication Report conducted by the USC Center for Public Relations is designed to provide insight into the evolution of the global communication industry by analyzing emerging trends. Each time we survey professionals working in the field, we discover new insights into what makes PR one of the most dynamic professions in the universe.

Past research has predicted the future of corporate activism and 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.

2024 Global Communication Report

Cover art for the Global Communications Report featuring a shadowy figure of a man tightrope walking across a design.The 2024 Global Communication Report, “The Balancing Act,” continues our four-year look into purpose, social causes, and the role of the communicator in organizations and as counselor.

This year’s report reviews findings from our February 2024 survey — conducted in partnership with Myriant by United Minds — of public relations professionals, investors, employees of large companies, and consumers. It reviews how companies are increasingly expected to engage with social issues beyond their immediate business interests, and discusses the growing influence of stakeholder expectations amidst a highly polarized political climate.

In this unprecedented year, purpose and polarization are colliding head on, posing a challenge for CEOs. “The Balancing Act” explores the strategic role of public relations professionals in guiding companies through these challenges. Additionally, the report reflects on the potential impact of the 2024 presidential election on corporate communication and stakeholder relations.

The Global Communication Report is produced annually by the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations, in conjunction this year with Myriant by United Minds, KRC Research, Worldcom Public Relations Group, and the following organizations: Arthur W. Page Society, Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management, Institute for Public Relations, PRCA, PR Council, and PRSA. Our report is designed to provide insight into the evolution of the global communication industry.

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Previous Reports

2023 Global Communication Report

Hands solving a rubix cube. The 2023 Global Communication Report, “New Reputation,” incorporates themes explored in previous reports about social purpose and corporate activism into the rubric of reputation, which has always been the purview of our industry. PR professionals are devoting an increasing amount of time and energy to building and protecting the reputations of their companies and their clients. That job has never been more important or more challenging because the rules of the game have changed — forcing us to think about reputation in a new way.

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2022 Global Communication Report

The 2022 Global Communication Report, “The Future of Corporate Activism,” continues our exploration of polarization, societal issues, and their impact on PR departments and professional communicators. Our research found that 93% of PR professionals say they are spending more time in their jobs navigating societal issues than five years ago, and they expect these challenges will increase. Understanding how to navigate this new reality facing our profession is critical.

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2021 Global Communications Report

The 2021 Global Communication Report, “Politics, Polarization and Purpose,” follows up on last year’s exploration of “new activism” to determine how politics affects polarization and, in turn, public relations. Our hypothesis was that even though polarization is driven by politics it’s primarily a communication problem, which should be addressed by profession­al communicators.

This year’s report reviews the findings from two surveys. The first talked to U.S. residents about a wide range of social topics just after the Nov. 2020 presidential election. The second queried more than 1,450 PR professionals and journalists on business and communi­cations issues. Some of these results are discussed in the USC Annenberg story CPR surveys explore political polarization and corporate responses to social activism, and shared in visualizations from January 2021.

The results of these two surveys, as reviewed and discussed in the Global Communication Report, present a clearer picture of a trou­bling phase of our history and a pivotal time for our industry. The data provide valuable insights into the causes of polar­ization and some possible solutions.

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2020 Global Communications Report

The 2020 Global Communication Report examines the evolution of activism and finds that the new generation of activists are younger, more diverse, and more collaborative. These “New Activists” are aligned with PR professionals in the belief that the key to creating long-term change is not protesting, but voting.

This year’s report, a comprehensive survey of more than 1,000 public relations leaders and students worldwide and of nearly 300 citizens engaged in public action and politics, looks at the PR industry’s views on activism, how prepared communicators are to react or work with various activist groups, and who they think will drive change in the future. Communicators believe that activism will grow in influence over the next five years, and that “average citizens” will be one of the most influential types of activist.

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2019 Global Communications Report

The 2019 Global Communications Report predicts that technology will help citizens become more engaged, but also more misinformed and more polarized. More than 2,100 public relations leaders, CEOs and students worldwide responded to our survey during January and early February 2019. We asked professionals about the use of technology in the PR industry, and we asked students to tell us what they think about the profession they will someday lead. This year’s research indicates that while the coming years will bring considerable or drastic change, technological innovations will be a significant driver of this change in the industry.

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2018 Global Communications Report

The 2018 Global Communications Survey predicts that future consumers will not know or care where the information they consume is coming from. In early 2018, we asked public relations leaders from agencies and corporations around the globe to predict where the communications field is headed. We also asked PR students to tell us what they think about the profession they will someday lead. The research indicates that the clear-cut lines between news stories written about a product or company (earned media) and advertisements bought to promote a product or point of view (paid media) are becoming increasingly blurred.

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2017 Global Communications Report

The USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations (CPR) released key findings from its second annual Global Communications Report, a comprehensive survey of more than 800 public relations executives from around the world. For the first time ever, the report also features insights from almost 700 public relations and communications students, along with in-house marketing executives.

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The Evolution of Public Relations

The USC Center for Public Relations partnered with Association of National Advertisers (ANA) to understand current client-side marketer perceptions of public relations in tandem with the 2017 Global Communications Report.

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The Inaugural USC Annenberg Global Communications Report

Public relations executives from across the globe contributed to the future of our dynamic profession by participating in a Global Communications Report we conducted this spring in conjunction with the Holmes Report, the Institute for Public Relations, the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management, the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication, the PR Council, the Worldcom PR Group and PRSA.

The Global Communications Report is designed to provide unprecedented insight into the evolution of the global communications industry by analyzing emerging trends in talent, structure, compensation, and diversity on both the client and agency sides of the business. More importantly, the Report will help those entering the PR industry better understand the skills and traits they will need to be successful.

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