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July 27, 2012

Study: Strategic issues for communication management until 2015

by Tom De Baere

The European Association of Communication Directors just published its annual report

It provides insight into communication and PR professionals (survey from 2200 communication professionals from 42 countries in Europe), and has titled it:



Challenges and Competencies for Strategic Communication

Why am I covering this report?

The reason I am covering this report is because

  • It show the biggest challenges for marketers and communicators today.
  • Because it comes from a descent source
  • Because it has data from previous years that allows to spot trends.

Key take-away’s from the European Communication Monitor 2012

  • Most important strategic issues: Need to address more audiences with limited resources
  • Ethical challenges: Six out of ten PR professionals faced moral problems within the last 12 months
  • Barriers to professionalization: 84% state that top management lacks understanding of communications
  • Integrating and coordinating communications: Shaping multiple identities is more relevant today
  • Practice of strategic communication: Operational work takes 37% of a typical week
  • Social media: Large gap between perceived importance and real implementation in most organisations
  • Development and qualifications: Management and business knowledge needed, but training is missing

Interesting findings from the report

Coping with the digital evolution and the social web

46 % of the professionals feel that their biggest challenge is coping with the digital evolution and the social web.

My view:

Coping with this should be your biggest priority. Study the fields of content marketing, inbound marketing, social media, and set-up a project to implement these marketing tactics.

You could do this the pragmatic way, but eventually this might take to long. So if I would be you, really threat this as a strategic projects. As usual, begin with the end in mind and work your way to it.


Social media: Large gap between perceived importance and real implementation.

Many see the importance of online communication, but lack a real implementation

As a further part of the study, it is interesting to see that there is a gap between Europe and the US, in which organisation in the US are using more social media communication tools.

My view:

As the study also points out, and I fully agree, is that “communicators” need to start using digital technologies and online tools as part of the regular work, AND privately use digital technologies and online tools.


Links to previous posts:

Findings from the report

In case you do not have the time to go through this lengthy report, this is what marketers from Europe have to say:

Biggest challenges

– 46% coping with the digital evolution

– 44% linking business strategy with communication

– 34% addressing more audiences + channels


–       58% ethical issues are more relevant than 5 years ago

  • driver 1 : compliance & transparency
  • driver 2 : international character of
  • driver 3 : social media communication

–       32% codes of ethics provides by the PR professional are outdated


Barriers to professionalization

–       84% lack of understanding of communication practice within top management

–       75% difficulties to prove the impact of communication activities on organisational goals


Integration & coordination

–       82 of organisations have more touchpoints with their publics than 5 years ago

–       3 out of 4 agree: corporate voice is created by ALL organisational members interacting with stakeholders



In a typical week, communicators spend the following amount of time with :

–       19 % aligning communication, the organisation and its stakeholders

–       15% coaching, training, and education members of the organisation

–       37% operational communication

–       29% managing communication activities and coworkers


Training & development

Top 3 development needs are:

–       46% management skills

–       42% management knowledge

–       39% business knowledge

Management skills consistently the top priority for practioners, even if they’ve been working on the job for more than 10 years (4 years in a row)


About The European Communication Monitor

The European Communication Monitor is the largest transnational survey on strategic communication worldwide. Almost 2,200 professionals from 42 countries participated in 2012. The ECM 2012 edition covers issues like integrated communications in fragemented publics, ethical challenges, competencies and qualification needs, strategic issues relevant within the near future, as well as social and mobile media.

Want to see more?

See the results at

ECM 2012 Web Video (YouTube)         (watch highlights)

ECM 2012 Chart Report (PDF, 124 pp.) (free download)

ECM 2012 Chart Report (Slideshare)   (browse online)

ECM 2012 Report (Booklet, 124 pp.)