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PULSE results: Investment in social media on the increase but businesses and brands are behind the curve

July 25, 2012


Victor Benady Managing Director, Grayling Digital takes us inside the new PULSE report


Grayling, the global public relations and government relations consultancy, has published results from its first quarterly global PULSE survey, which analyses global trends in communication and public relations and tracks important changes in PR spend against key metrics. One of the key findings reveals that despite investment in social media increasing, a significant number of businesses are yet to embrace it.


Victor Benady said: "Best in class companies and brands realise that the social media juggernaut is unstoppable and are putting the medium at the heart of their global communication strategies recognising that, whilst developed markets are showing signs of reaching a plateau, growth in developing markets is phenomenal."


But what of those companies whose investment remains the same, is in decline or doesn't exist at all? This is where these figures are most revealing. The fact is that a significant majority are way behind the curve and are failing to capitalise, or even manage, this unstoppable seismic shift. While consumers are embracing social media in all aspects of their lives, businesses and brands are still way behind. According to recent research by the CMO Council, only 17% of companies have fully integrated go-to-market strategies. Over half are dabbling (although a healthy number of those are looking to step things up a gear, which goes some way towards explaining the strong growth in investment) and the remaining 27% are, at best, thinking about it or struggling with it.


There is a common misconception that to expose a brand or business on social media is to open it up to uncontrollable negative forces that will do irreparable damage, but this negates a couple of important facts. First of all, with the right governance and policies in place, negativity (which is actually rarer than the scaremongers would have us believe) can quickly and powerfully be transitioned to advocacy, although of course one needs to be prepared and needs to walk the talk.  Secondly, and most importantly, sticking one's head in the sand and ignoring the single most significant revolution in communication will ultimately mean that one's brand might as well not exist as its consumers increasingly turn online for their research, recommendations and branded content. There is also a notion that social media isn't measurable in terms of solid business focused KPI's, another misconception that is holding many back.


Social media isn't a dark art nor the reserve of hyperbole spouting gurus. However, it is a discipline that aggressively mutates in ways that few can predict, and that requires deep consumer insight and thoughtful strategic planning on a rolling basis. Waiting to see what will happen next is a hiding to nothing and businesses need to take action now. With the right 'inside out' strategy in place, any organisation can benefit from the social revolution and make itself future fit for at least another couple of generations. With that in mind, there is no doubt that we will continue to see growth in social media investment.




About Victor Benady, Managing Director, Grayling Digital


Victor heads up Grayling’s rapidly growing digital offer working across the consultancy’s various divisions and offices with a particular focus on integrated strategy, social media and innovation. He has worked in digital for 15 years as a creative director and strategist on a wide range of clients and sectors. 

For more about Grayling's Digital offering click here.


Grayling is a leading global communications network, combining national champion businesses across the areas of Public Relations, Government Affairs, Investor Relations and Event Management. Grayling has offices in 70 locations in over 40 countries across Europe, the US, the Middle East and Asia Pacific.


Key industry sectors in which Grayling operates are: Energy, Environment, Industry; Healthcare and Pharmaceutical; Financial and Professional Services; Technology, Media and Telecoms; Consumer Brands; Government and Public Sector.