NEW YORK--The Holmes Report has launched the 2012 edition of the Influence 100, uncovering the 100 most important in-house communicators in the world.

Formally unveiled at the Global PR Summit in Miami last month, the dedicated microsite includes profiles and interviews with the 100 comms chiefs, who once again reflect the rising importance of the role of senior public relations professional within major corporations— and other institutions that face intense public and media scrutiny.

Like last year, the Influence 100 features in-depth research of the budget, responsibilities and attitudes of the senior communications pros selected for the list, comparing the findings with the 2011 results. 

The 100 executives, around 30 percent of whom are new entrants, are also polled to find out their favourite agencies and communicators; insight into their geography and background; and, information on their reporting lines, budgetary and agency oversight. This year, the study also breaks down the gender ratio and investigates social media usage among the 100 executives.


For example, more than half (53 percent) report that they are responsible for a total public relations budget in excess of $50m, up from 44 percent last year. Interestingly, there is quite a drop-off after that. Just eight percent say they control a public relations budget between $25m  and $50m, while 20 percent have a budget under $10m.

Between them, the 100 most influential corporate communicators in the world are likely responsible for public relations budgets in excess of $3 billion. On average, less than half of that amount is being spent with public relations agencies.


Unsurprisingly, given the size and stature of the US public relations industry, exactly half of them are based in North America, with a further 14 located in the UK. The remainder are spread across almost 20 countries around the world, including Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Singapore, South Africa and Saudi Arabia, as well as all of the major markets in Western Europe.

Agency oversight

About 16 percent of those surveyed say they spend the vast majority of their PR budget on one global agency-of-record—up significantly over last year, when just four percent indicated a single AOR. Just 22 percent say they select PR firms entirely on a project-by-project basis—down from 36 percent who said the same last year.

Asked which PR agency they most respected, Edelman again received most votes, followed by Weber Shandwick, Fleishman-Hillard and Burson-Marsteller.


Two members of the Influence 100 - Sue Clark and Margit Wennmachers - have broad management roles that include operational responsibilities. Another 15 oversee combined marketing and public relations functions, a trend that appears to have gathered pace in recent years. The vast majority, however, oversee classic communications functions, which include public affairs, employee engagement and CSR.

In 58 percent of the companies responding to our survey, public relations has primary responsibility for social media work (essentially unchanged from last year). In most of the remaining companies, responsibility for digital and social media is shared between different departments.

Gender & social media

71 percent of the Influence 100 are male. Just under a third have active Twitter accounts, which we define as having been used in the past three months, suggesting that this group of communications pros appears to prefer listening to active personal engagement. Although honourable exceptions must be made for prolific tweeters such as Stephen Forshaw, Kaiser Kuo, Margit Wennmachers and Corey duBrowa.

All of this information and much more, including in-depth interviews with the 100 comms heads, and their favourite brands, media and communicators, is available on the Influence 100 microsite.