While communications firms have embraced social media as an effective way to connect with external audiences, they are still relying on older, more established technologies like email to communicate internally with employees, according to new research from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and theEMPLOYEEapp by APPrise Mobile, which recently released findings from a new study on technology usage by the communications industry.

The study also found that while the vast majority of individuals now possess mobile devices, companies are behind the curve in effectively deploying and using them for communications and content distribution.

The survey explored the use of old and new technologies by communications pros with respect to four main categories of technology: email, social media and mobile technology as well as messaging and social collaboration tools. The survey sought to determine how each is being used for both internal and external communications and their effectiveness for both.

PRSA THeEMPLOYEEapp

“Communicators understand the importance of finding technology that suits our ‘always on’ culture and emphasizing the role that digital storytelling has in today’s mobile-first world,” said PRSA 2017 National Chair Jane Dvorak, APR, in a news release. “Yet, based on organizations’ seemingly limited investment in newer technologies and reticence to move away from email and intranets, old-school communication tactics remain the dominant method of distributing information.”

“The past several years have seen a very rapid change when it comes to the use of technology to communicate with an organization’s internal and external audiences,” said Jeff Corbin, CEO of APPrise Mobile, in the release. “It is safe to now say that mobile technology is here to stay. The question therefore becomes how does our industry have to change to remain relevant in light of the fact that content is now being consumed primarily through the small screens of iPhones and Androids. The research that we conducted with PRSA addresses this question and shows where we are succeeding and where we need to rethink the way our work is done.”

Key findings from the survey are below. A more detailed report will be released in the coming weeks.

Email is not likely to go away anytime soon

However, when other factors are considered such as email overload, newer messaging technologies and greater consumption of content found on mobile devices, communicators agree that it is not the most effective way to reach external audiences.

  • Email is used by 91 percentof respondents to communicate with external audiences; however only 27 percent believe it is the most effective way to communicate externally.
  • Communicators found social 11 percentmore effective than email for communicating with external audiences.
  • Email is used by 95 percentof respondents for internal employee communications with 69 percent saying it is the most effective way to reach employees.
  • A large percentage of respondents (63 percent) believe email will always be used, especially with internal audiences.

Social media

Given the size and reach of social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, communicators have grown increasingly familiar with how to best use these tools, especially for external communications.

  • Most respondents (77 percent) said their company has a policy around social media.
  • Fifty-five percentsaid their company had a formal policy.
  • Forty-four percentsaid their company has an informal policy that relies on employee judgment.

Mobile technology

Companies recognize the importance of mobile as a workplace tool and necessary counterpart to desktop computers. But most employees cannot access important company information through their Apple and Android devices.

  • Roughly half(48 percent) said their organization had a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy.
  • Sixty-two percentsaid they either don’t access or have a very difficult time accessing their company’s intranet through their mobile device.

Messaging and social collaboration technologies

A lack of uniformity exists with the use of messaging and social collaboration technologies and it is unclear which solution is the best and/or most effective. Importantly, messaging technologies are being implemented at a group level rather than institutionalized throughout an entire organization.

  • Thirty-one percentsaid they use a variety of messaging technologies, while only 46 percent said their entire company uses the same platform.
  • Slack is used most frequently (41 percent) among groups of employees; Workplace by Facebook ranks second (21 percent); disparate others are used as well.

The survey data was collected via a SurveyMonkey poll largely comprised of PRSA members. In total, 628 communications professionals responded to the questionnaire conducted from Feb. 6, 2017, through March 27, 2017. Communications professionals of varying tenure, industry, age demographic and agency/in-house designation were included.

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Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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