STUDY ON THE PROFESSION OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION AND PUBLIC RELATIONS IN LATIN AMERICA
COVID-19 has deepened ethical challenges, the risk of cyberattacks and the gender gap, requiring greater professionalization and the development of competences in strategic communication and public relations in Latin America
The full report is available for free download from our social networks and on the web at https://latincommunicationmonitor.com. On Monday, September 27, (19 h Brasilia), in the context of the 36th Inter-American Congress on Public Relations CONFIARP 2021, we will be discussing the results with the community of professionals and academia. Below are 10 key points of the 2020-2021 report.
THE 10 KEY POINTS OF THE 2020-2021 LCM
- COVID-19 CRISIS. In Latin America, 80% of those leading strategic communication and public relations acknowledge the huge impact COVID-19 has had on the activities of companies in the continent. The analysis per country indicates that Colombia (64.8%), Peru (63%), and El Salvador and Puerto Rico (60.3%) are the countries with the greatest impact in communication management during the COVID-19 crisis. Except for Uruguay, with 44.2%, the rest exceed 50% in “Total Impact” valuation. In order, the worst hit sectors in this management of the crisis have been the state sector with an impact of 67.9%, followed by companies quoted on stock exchanges (57.9%) and social organizations (57.6%). The communication function has been very important for the work areas related to strategy and coordination and, to a lesser degree, for consultancy. Of every two professionals, one highlights management with the information media and digital communication to face the crisis. It is surprising that 37.5% of those who work in the public sector claim not to have a crisis plan.
- ETHICAL CHALLENGES AND RESOURCES FOR COMMUNICATION. Ethical challenges have become increasingly present in day-to-day communication work in the region. The results highlight that one in two people in the profession in Latin America have experienced ethical challenges in their daily work over the last year related to the use of bots to generate responses on the social networks, and the exploitation of the public’s personal data from analyzing big data. Of these, 89% place their personal values above the ethical guidelines of their organizations or the guidelines and codes of professional associations in managing integrity and ethical challenges. The countries that report the greatest challenges are Brazil, Peru, El Salvador, Argentina and Uruguay.
- CYBERSECURITY. Cybersecurity is one further concern for those leading communication. Insofar as cybersecurity is concerned, most professionals believe it is relevant to their daily work and four out of ten have experienced cyberattacks or incidents of data theft within their own organizations. Those who work in the public sector believe 64.1% of cybercrimes can affect their websites and/or social media accounts (the highest level of vulnerability in comparison with other sectors); 48% believe it is possible that their digital infrastructure (e.g., content management systems, computers) can be paralyzed; 51.8% believe their stakeholders’ data can be stolen (e.g., journalists’ contact data, opinion generators, VIPs and/or consumers), also the highest likelihood compared to other sectors; and lastly, 54.6% consider sensitive information on the department (e.g., communication strategies, budgets, measurements) can be leaked. In this last aspect, compared for example to companies quoted on stock exchanges, the difference is greater by 15.5%. These types of organizations appear to be the most “shielded against cybercrime.”
- GENDER EQUALITY. The gender situation in the profession continues to limit equality in Latin America. On the important topic of gender equality at work, the LCM reports that in more than half of the communication departments and agencies existing in the companies in the region, most professionals are women, but only one in two reach management position. Of the countries in the region, Brazil stands out as having the largest gap between the perception of how much the issue has improved in the last five years (60.9%), in the face of only 8.7% who believe what has been done in recent times is enough. Meanwhile in Peru, 78.5% of the assessments claim to have improved in these issues in the last five years and, surprisingly, Venezuela claims that what has been done about these matters is sufficient with 57% agreement.
- STRATEGIC TOPICS. On the way to 2023, they are: “Facing digital evolution and the social web” (39.4%), which has remained unchanged since 2016; “using big data and/or algorithms for communication” (36.8%) and exploring “new forms of creating and distributing content” (34.9%). On the other hand, the least relevant topics are “putting an end to gender problems at different levels” (16.2%) and “raising and adapting professional competences in communication” (17.4%). As for the importance of communication channels and instruments today and in the future, communicators believe that mobile communication is progressing rapidly and will continue to do so towards 2023. Social networks, which are the most important channel, lose relevance ever so slightly towards 2023.
- DEVELOPMENT OF COMPETENCES. In Latin America, most women significantly believe in their corporate and communication skills, while men significantly value their data and technological competences more. The sample in this edition indicates that six out of ten professionals are at leadership levels in their companies, thus: 27.1% in the public sector, 20.8% in private companies, 18.2% non-profit organizations, 9.3% in companies quoted on stock exchanges, and 26.2% work in communication and public relation agencies or freelance consultancy.
- SALARIES. In general in 2020, directors of communications in the region earn less than in 2018, except for the 30 thousand to 60 thousand band, which has grown by 2.1%. More than 75% earn less than 30,000 dollars a year; 14.1% up to 60 thousand dollar a year as their basic salary; while 1.7% represented they earned over 200 thousand dollars a year as a communication professional in Latin America.
- EXCELLENT COMMUNICATION DEPARTMENTS. In Latin America, 76.8% of communication departments fail to reach levels of excellence. By contrast, some 23.2% departments comply with the executive and consultative function optimally, while at the same time successfully competing with other organizations. If we analyze the situation by type of organization, 39.6% of companies quoted on stock exchanges, 20.3% of private companies, 24.3% of public organizations and 17.4% of third sector organizations are excellent.
- The most complete X-RAY OF THE PROFESSION AND THE TRENDS of the sector in the region. A total of 1,683 strategic communication and public relations professionals have taken part in the 2020-2021 edition of the LCM, representing 20 countries in the region and contributing evidence on the COVID-19 crisis, cybersecurity, the situation of women, ethical challenges and new competences. Also 26 universities took part in the research, as well as the broadest network of professional associations in Latin America. This fourth edition has been sponsored by the University of Oregon (USA), the Latin University of Costa Rica and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI). The COVID-19 chapter was designed in collaboration with the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) based on the study “COVID-19: How Businesses are Handling the Crisis”.
THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS SCIENTIFIC STUDY WITH THE GREATEST WORLDWIDE IMPACT
The LCM is the most prestigious scientific study in Latin America in the context of the Global Communication Monitor organized by the European Public Relations Education and Research Association (EUPRERA) over the last 15 years, surveying over 6,000 communication professionals in more than 80 countries included in the survey, with studies in Europe (ECM), Asia and the Pacific (APCM) and North America (NACM).