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Research reveals trends for strategic communication in Europe


An international survey, led by a Leeds Beckett University researcher, has revealed trends for strategic communication in Europe.

Ralph Tench

The study, led by Professor Ralph Tench from Leeds Business School at Leeds Beckett, collected data from across 50 countries and explored trends like visualisation, social bots, hypermodernity and benchmarking for strategic communications.

Key results

  • Professionals working in communications are fully aware of the trend towards increased visualisation in society, however only 50% of professionals have visual competencies
  • Social bots are seen largely as a threat for society and organisations – an explanation why only a few organisations already use social bots
  • A cultural turn towards hyper-modernism changes the way organisations communicate with their stakeholders

Based on responses from 3,387 senior professionals from every European country, this year’s edition of the European Communication Monitor (ECM) reveals that, even though the professionals are fully aware of the visual trend in society, half of the professionals surveyed have limited visual competencies. The data also demonstrated that the phenomenon of social (ro-)bots is largely neglected by many communication professionals in Europe. Only one third follow the debate about social bots and 15.9 per cent have no idea about the topic at all. In this context social bots are mainly seen as a threat for public debates and organisational reputation alike, although four out of ten respondents do also see opportunities arising from them.

Moreover, the ECM 2017 asked how the hyper-modern paradigm might influence the work environment of communication professionals. A hyper-modern society is a society in overdrive, characterised by a culture of hyper-consumption, hyper-change, and hyper-individualism. A large majority of 71.5 per cent witness the cultural transformation towards a hyper-modern culture in their country. The transition from a post-modern to hyper-modern culture is the strongest in consultancies (57.2 per cent) and private companies (51.8 per cent). Organisations with post-modern and hyper-modern characteristics are ahead in sensing the trend towards an overarching consumer mentality and are much stronger involved in societal debates. Most of them think that it has already changed and will continue to change the communication with their stakeholders.

Professor Ralph Tench, lead UK researcher of the survey, explained: “During the last 12 months we have experienced significant events on the world geo-political stage with impact and implications for strategic communication. While the European Communication Monitor continues to track the specifics of the communicator’s role, we are also interested in mapping and monitoring the influence of wider societal issues, from economic and cultural developments to technological change, and understand their implications on practice.”

The results have been released today in Brussels by the European Public Relations Education and Research Association (EUPRERA) and the European Association of Directors (EACD), supported by partner PRIME Research. The communication monitor study series, initiated and led by Professor Ansgar Zerfass (University of Leipzig), and led by Professor Ralph Tench from the UK, analyses trends in the field since more than a decade and covers more than 80 countries across European, Latin-America and Asia-Pacific.

The study also presents insights in the phenomenon of social media influencers and stakeholder engagement as well as demonstrating the skills, knowledge and competencies of European communication professionals and how they spend their productive time at work.

A short video summarising the key findings as well as a full report is available online at www.communicationmonitor.eu

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