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The following data is based on responses from a survey sent to this year's Influence 100, and where applicable, further analysis. Some percentages might not equal exactly 100% due to rounding.
Last year saw a big shake-up to the table, with new entries counting for nearly a third of the influencers. This year North America remains dominant, although not as significantly as last year when a full 57% hailed from the region. This year the figure has dropped to 53% with other regions slowly beginning to chip into US dominance.
Latin American representation has crept up by 1%, and EMEA has also increased slightly, up from 29% in 2021 to 31% this year. APAC has dropped back to its 2020 level of 13% after an increase by just one percentage point last year.
Overall, 22 countries are represented in the 2022 data, demonstrating the global reach and power of the industry.
The representation of women in the Influence 100 continues to creep up, and this year we have an all-time high of 57 powerful women in global comms leadership roles, compared with 43 men. This upward trajectory builds on data from 2021, when 55 of representatives were female and 2020 when 54 were women. It’s hard to believe given this rise that in 2019, women were in the minority, with 47 female influencers listed.
We’re committed to increasing the visibility of Black and ethnic minority comms professionals, but we find this a challenge within the Influence 100 given that it prioritises the heads of communications and marketing functions. For that reason we do apply a certain amount of conscious bias towards representation, looking at a wider range of job titles than CMO or CCO. Not only does this make the Influence 100 more diverse, but it also reflects the evolution of the PR industry itself.
This year, then, it’s disappointing that our representation has slipped slightly and 62% of our influencers are white, up from 60% last year. We can attribute this change to the loss of two prominent Black communicators, Michael Sneed, who retired from his role at J&J, and Jerilan Greene, who has stepped down from her role at Yum Brands and has yet to announce a new post at the time of publication.
When we launched the Influence 100, around 90% of the list was white. Our efforts to address this imbalance are working, but not as fast as we would like as our target is for 25% of the list to be made up of PoC and 15% of Black people. While we have once again achieved our target for PoC representation, it’s a blow to have lost two prominent Black professionals from the list and especially a Black woman, given that Black women are particularly under-represented in the industry as a whole.
Our categories focus on what the organisations our influencers work for actually do or sell, not how they do it or whether their audience is B2B or consumer. For example, we count Amazon as a retailer not a tech company, Uber a transport firm, and PayPal a financial services company.
Our categories split out mainly consumer-facing brands, including putting FMCG (including fashion and beauty) and automotive together but separating out food and drink, and media and entertainment. Our ‘social and search’ category includes Google, Facebook and LinkedIn, rather than putting them in the technology cohort. While arguably practically every company is a technology company to some extent, our technology category is old-school: traditional hardware and software companies, plus telecoms and electronics.
The split between sectors hasn’t changed dramatically since last year. Tech has increased by 1% and FMCG including auto has leapfrogged financial and professional services by just a couple of per cent. Healthcare saw a bit of a drop, from 11% last year to 8% this year. Media and entertainment also dropped by 1%, as did non-profit and public sector.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a global influencer list, our communicators and marketers have been with their current companies on average for 8.2 years. This is a small slump on last year’s average of 8.8 years, and the departure of J&J’s worldwide VP, global corporate affairs and chief comms officer Michael Sneed after 39 years with the firm has affected the average tenure overall. With Sneed’s departure, the longest-serving influencers on our list include Masayoshi Shirayanagi, who has been with Toyota for 38 years; Conny Braams, who has notched up 31 years at Unilever; Jan Runau, who has been with Adidas for 30 years; and Bea Perez, who has worked at Coca-Cola for 28 years.
While almost all of our Influence 100 are educated to at least degree level, a small number have proved it’s possible to get to the top without a college or university education. Interestingly, last year just 2% of the list didn’t hold at least a first degree, and this year the number has crept up to 3%. Could the increasingly diverse skills required by the modern PR and communications role be taking more precedence than education and qualifications? Time will tell. There’s been movement at the very top of the educational pecking order too, as 40% of last year’s cohort held advanced degrees but this year, that figure has dropped significantly to 30. The number of entrants with a degree has jumped however from 58% to 67%.
In terms of subjects for study, there is a clear bias towards degrees focused on communications, English, journalism and political science, and international relations, marketing and politics are also well represented. There are a smattering of linguists among our cohort, with studies in Russian, Japanese, French and German represented, as well as a handful of pure scientists and engineers. History, drama and accountancy are also on the list, and several of our influencers also have a MBA or other business or management qualification.
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