LONDON — A new report into perceptions of PR among executives has found that two in ten do not know what PR stands for and 40% do not think it delivers good value to their business.

The report, ‘How Executives in Large Companies Perceive PR: A Groundbreaking Survey of over 300 Stakeholders Outside the Comms Function’, was carried out by Censuswide and commissioned by Releasd, which provides a tool for creating PR activity reports. It surveyed 300 executives in companies with more than 1,000 employees, across a range of sectors.

The key findings include an astonishing 20% of respondents apparently not knowing that PR stands for public relations, with suggestions including 'press relations', 'publicity remit', 'press release' and 'protecting reputation'.

Over a third of executives admitted that they did not have a good understanding of what the PR function does within their business, with the survey finding that, generally, the larger the company, the lower the understanding of PR. Respondents were also asked to name the business functions they had the strongest understanding of and only 15% of participants put communications in their top five.

And 40% of execs do not think that communications delivers good value to their business, which the report said was “a critical issue that PR teams must address to better influence budgets, resources and collaborative opportunities within their companies.”

That said, the perceived value of PR did improve by seniority of the participant: 30% of C-level execs indicated that they did not think PR delivered good value, compared to 40% of directors and 45% of senior managers.

The research demonstrates a direct link between understanding and the perceived value of PR, as 80% of those who had a good understanding of PR also thought it delivered good value to the business.

Releasd CEO Richard Benson said: “The communications industry is rightly obsessed with demonstrating the value of its work. Whilst the conversation has typically centred around measurement and metrics, this research shows that many execs simply do not have a good understanding of what the comms function does in the first place.

“Luckily, the ones that do understand it, tend to value it too. This presents a huge opportunity for PR teams willing to focus on education as well as evaluation. Ironically, we need to do a much better job of PRing ourselves."

Simon Whitehead, CEO of H+K UK, is quoted in the report as agreeing with the findings: "The communications industry continues to struggle to be understood within businesses. There is a job to be done to educate business executives of the value of public relations – at every level, in every industry, and in businesses of every shape and size."