Digital comms identified as top skills gap by PR Academy students

About the author

Ann is a co-founder of PR Academy. Her special areas of interest are internal communication, change management and project communication. MSc, Dip CAM, MCIPR

28 February 2013: Research carried out by PR Academy among its past and present students highlights what they consider to be their current skills gaps. More than half of the respondents to the question (52%) identified Digital Communications, followed by Strategic Planning (46%), and Measurement (44%).

The findings come from PR Academy’s third annual Qualifications Trends Survey, first introduced by PR Academy in 2010 to find out more about the status of its students and their views on professional qualifications.

The report also shows that, when asked to identify the specialist qualifications they would be interested in studying, respondents’ top three choices were Digital Communications (68%), followed by Measurement (56%) and Project Communications (56%).

Reacting to the findings, Ann Pilkington, PR Academy director, said: “Digital comms is still a relatively new and emerging area of communications practice and so you might expect to see this cited as a skills gap. Even the early adopters of digital tools are discovering that they need to continue to learn to keep pace with new developments. However, strategic planning and measurement have been the ‘Achilles heel’ of the communications disciplines for some time now. The fact that practitioners recognise this and want to address this through qualifications can only be a good thing.”

Commenting on the report, Barry Leggetter, Executive Director of International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC), said: “All PR professionals know they need to prove what they are doing is working. However, measurement is now assuming a deeper importance with its ability to show the business benefits of PR activity. While we’ve known this for some time, it is only relatively recently that important steps have been taken with the introduction of the ‘Barcelona Principles’ framework and launch of the AMEC International Certificate in Measurement and Evaluation. The results of this survey around skills gaps and specialist qualifications are reassuring in that they highlight a growing awareness of the importance of measurement and a desire to learn more about this subject.”

The survey also shows:

    • Confidence that having a qualification will lead to career progression is holding, with 37% of respondents indicating this in 2012 compared with 36% in 2011
    • That almost two thirds (63%) of respondents continue to enjoy access to funding for qualifications through their employer, but that an increasing number (11% this year compared with 3% in 2010) don’t know if funding is available through their employer
    • That to “Enhance my skills” has remained the top reason for studying for a qualification for the past three years, but that the second key motivation, to “Improve career prospects”, has jumped from fourth place last year to second place this year.

The survey was conducted online using Survey Monkey in December 2012. The results are based on 120 respondents – all are past and present students of PR Academy.