This research, undertaken in partnership with Dr Tersia Landsberg Boshoff (PhD), provides a comprehensive overview of the evolution of public relations (PR) in South Africa, focusing on Practitioner and Practice Demographics, Practitioner Roles, Measurement and Evaluation Practice, Measurement Maturity, and Reporting. This year's report extended its scope to include an exploration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) utilisation in PR measurement and evaluation. Some high-level findings include:
Measurement trends and challenges:
While agency practitioners lead in awareness of best practices, in-house practitioners still lag in formal measurement processes. Budget allocation remains a top challenge, presenting an opportunity for practitioners to leverage AI and automation to overcome constraints in the coming year.
Output-level metrics and measurement maturity:
South African communication practices have historically favoured output-level metrics, and in 2023, this trend continued. The study underscores the importance of measurement maturity, linking it to strategic alignment and noting a significant decrease in measuring tone and sentiment alongside media frequency, likely due to budget and resource restraints.
Measurement metrics and AI adoption:
The study observed a positive shift away from advertising value equivalency (AVEs) as a standalone metric, with practitioners rather now incorporating it into a mix of more meaningful metrics. The exploration of AI usage in South African PR reveals a baseline of 29% with no intention of using Artificial Intelligence tools.
Dr Landsberg Boshoff believes that: “Those not planning on using AI in their PR practices might be losing out on some significant benefits that others are already enjoying. Practitioners using AI in 2023 are using it in ways that appear to bridge their own reported challenges – they report that their main benefits from using it are saving time, reducing cost, and improving efficiency. This mirrors the top-reported challenges – budget restraints, resource restraints, and time restraints.”
The local findings plus international trends were discussed by a panel which included international communication experts such as Richard Bagnall (co-managing partner of CARMA, chair of AMEC 2016-2022), Nicholas Leong (DHL Group in Asia-Pacific) and local professionals such as Gopolang Peme (communications manager at Rand Mutual).
Bagnall made the point that it is increasingly important for communicators to not just report on their activities, but also on the value these activities bring to an organisation. In an increasingly turbulent world with many associated risks, communicators face the risk of becoming redundant if they cannot illustrate the importance of their work.
The report and webinar discussion formed part of the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication’s (AMEC) annual Measurement Month. This global initiative, running throughout November, is designed to educate communication and public relations practitioners on the latest best practices in measuring the effectiveness of their strategies.
To download a free copy of the research please visit:
To view the webinar discussion please visit: