Our new research roundups will highlight some of the pertinent studies coming out of the PR industry, looking at topics as varied as the business that produces them. The feature will run periodically.  Send your latest findings to [email protected].

Empathy Declining in the US

New research from Method Communications found empathy may be key to companies making meaningful connections with consumers. The agency’s survey of more than 2,000 Americans found that nearly two in three Americans say empathy has decreased in the last year — from 54% in 2021 to a mere 27% in 2022 — despite shared societal challenges.

The report also found that 47% of Americans want to hear more human-centric stories in the news and from brands. 37% of consumers say that they enjoy reading content from brands and that it makes them feel more connected to the companies.  Americans want to see the brands they purchase from taking a stance on social issues. But if the brand comes down on the “wrong side” of a hot-button issue, consumers are primed and ready to boycott, the survey found.

The Earned Effect

A Weber Shandwick and Institute of Practitioners in Advertising study found that campaigns that earn coverage and conversation have a higher business impact than those that don’t. The study, which evaluated 10 years of global case studies, found:

  • 53% of campaigns that earn coverage and conversation are more likely to drive very large business effects and 2.6 times more likely to achieve very large profit growth.  

  • Culturally salient campaigns outperform other campaigns with 57% driving very large sales gains and 40% driving very large market share gains.

  • Brands worthy of earning attention and activating – not simply reaching – communities see a 42% uplift in ROI and outperform peers in every brand health metric.

  • Campaigns that earn coverage and conversation are also 75% more likely to create halo effects across other products in the franchise.

Top PR Insights of 2022

The Institute for Public Relations has published The Top 19 Public Relations Insights of 2022, an annual list based on the year’s top research studies from companies like BCG, PWC, Morning Consult, and McKinsey & Company. Below are the top findings from the top three insights. The full report can be read here.

  • Women in the Workplace: A LeanIn and McKinsey & Company survey of 40,000 employees found for every 100 men who were promoted from entry-level to manager level, only 87 women were promoted, and only 82 women of color were promoted.


  • Disability Equality Index: A survey of 415 companies by Disability:IN
    and the American Association of People with Disabilities found 60% of companies had company-wide hiring goals for people with disabilities.


  • Diversity of Talent Emerges as Critical Challenge: A survey of more than 200 agency and in-house leaders from PRovoke Media and Now Go Create, in partnership with FleishmanHillard, found more than two-thirds of agencies (68%) report they are more likely to be approached for big, creative ideas than they
    were 12 months ago (up from 56% in 2021).

The Youth Kaleidoscope

The Youth Kaleidoscope Report from FleishmanHillard’s global Culture Unit finds that today’s youth, who are contending with unprecedented stressors, are finding confidants in creators and comfort in online communities, resulting in them feeling less alone when it comes to mental health. The study also found that brands who are authentically engaging in conversations around mental health and well-being are building strong loyalty from young people.

Among other key findings include Gen Zers wield their purchasing power in support, or not, of brands who champion positive body image; and young people are experiencing unprecedented high levels of financial anxiety, with 69% reporting that it is leading to people avoiding looking at money out of fear of what they may find. In addition, realism, such as VR, can have both positive and negative effects as Gen Z is exposed to experiences that take on a level of realism during an important mental and emotional development period for their brains.