Public Relations on The Rise Among Marketers: ANA Survey


ANA Members Plan to Increase PR Spending Over Next Five Years
As Discipline Becomes More Connected to Marketing

NEW YORK (May 9, 2017) — A majority of marketers plan to increase internal staffing and overall spending on public relations over the next five years as the discipline continues to become an increasingly important part of the marketing mix, according to a new report from the ANA (Association of National Advertisers).

The report, conducted by the ANA in partnership with the USC Center for Public Relations at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, also revealed that digital communications are driving public relations, and the three most important trends that will affect the future of PR are social listening, digital storytelling, and real-time marketing.

The survey was conducted in the winter of 2017 and was designed to understand current client-side marketer perceptions of public relations. Respondents were asked to identify the trends most important to the future of public relations, how public relations demonstrates its value, and how public relations will develop over the next five years.

More than half of the respondents (62 percent) indicated they plan to increase internal staffing to support public relations over the next five years, and 75 percent said they plan to increase overall spending on PR. Those figures compared to 16 percent and 25 percent, respectively, who said they plan to make similar increases in the current year.

“Public relations as a discipline is clearly evolving and becoming more important to marketers,” said ANA Group EVP Bill Duggan. “And PR is being fueled by the rise and omnipresence of digital communications. Digital has put PR front and center, as it allows immediate outbound communication and inbound feedback.”

Fred Cook, director of the USC Center for Public Relations and chairman of Golin, added: “Our findings clearly predict a convergence of PR and marketing over the next five years. It’s going to be very interesting to see how that merger plays out in agencies and organizations.”


  • Public relations is converging with marketing. According to 54 percent of survey respondents, public relations will change over the next five years by becoming more closely aligned with marketing. In fact, 72 percent of respondents answered that public relations will either become more closely aligned with marketing or become a subset of it.
  • An overwhelming 89 percent of respondents said public relations can demonstrate its value most effectively by proving how its programs achieve measureable business outcomes and by improving measurement of results.
  • Respondents indicated that the number of overall agencies (public relations, advertising, marketing, branding, digital, etc.) their organization will work with over the next five years will either stay the same (44 percent) or decrease slightly (31 percent).

n total, 100 client-side marketers participated in the survey. Of those, 53 percent are “senior marketers” (director level and above) and 47 percent are “junior marketers” (manager level and below). On average, respondents have 17 years of experience in marketing/advertising. Thirty-four percent of respondents work at organizations which have an annual U.S. media budget of $100 million or more; the other 66 percent work at organizations which have an annual U.S. media budget of less than $100 million. Those organizations are primarily B2C for 42 percent of respondents, primarily B2B for 15 percent, and equally B2C/B2B for the remainder.

The survey’s findings were revealed in a white paper, “The Evolution of Public Relations,” which is attached. Findings from ANA members have also been integrated into a broader report from the USC Center for Public Relations titled Global Communications Report (GCR17), a comprehensive survey of more than 800 public relations executives from around the world. 



The mission of the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) is to drive growth for marketing professionals, brands and businesses, the industry, and humanity. The ANA serves the marketing needs of 20,000 brands by leveraging the 12-point ANA Growth Agenda, which has been endorsed by the Global CMO Growth Council. The ANA’s membership consists of U.S. and international companies, including client-side marketers, nonprofits, fundraisers, and marketing solutions providers (data science and technology companies, ad agencies, publishers, media companies, suppliers, and vendors). The ANA creates Marketing Growth Champions by serving, educating, and advocating for more than 50,000 industry members that collectively invest more than $400 billion in marketing and advertising annually.


The mission of the USC Center for Public Relations at the Annenberg School is to connect corporations, agencies, academics and students to define the future of the industry and to develop those who will shape it.  Its 2017 Global Communications Report combines perspectives from ANA members, public relations executives, and students.   


John Wolfe
Director of Communications
Office: 212.455.8011
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