The 2023 edition of the European Communication Monitor (ECM) has been presented today. The study is known as the world’s longest running empirical study on current and future developments in strategic communication and public relations. It is based on surveys of almost 40,000 communication professionals from 50 countries.
The current edition provides unique insights by combining a look back at the most important strategic issues for communication management over 15 consecutive years with a look ahead that identifies five key areas of action for communication leaders. The outlook is based on longitudinal empirical insights from the ECM and current research literature. The authors present theses for communication leaders that stimulate reflection and debate.
The project has been conducted and supported by a team of renowned communication professors from universities across Europe led by Prof. Dr. Ansgar Zerfass and managed by Dr. Jens Hagelstein.
Unique insights into a rapidly changing profession that drives our societies
The ECM has tracked the rise and decline of key issues rated as important by communicators since 2007. These unique longitudinal insights reveal how communicators across Europe started to pay attention to new developments, how they deprioritised issues after some time (probably due to a better understanding and the development of practices to deal with them), and how some issues took off again or kept their status as a key strategic issue.
The study shows that two issues have been constantly on top of the mind of communicators and they will continue to stay there at least until 2025: building and maintaining trust and linking business strategy and communication. The trust placed in organisations by their stakeholders is a valuable immaterial resource, which is often based on communication activities. Stakeholder expectations regarding sustainability and social responsibility have also been a main concern for communicators in Europe. However, they have become less important between 2008 and 2022 and are now again among the top three strategic issues. A similar volatility, but on a higher level, applies to the assessment of challenges and opportunities related to the intensified speed and volume of information flow in a digitalised and globalised world. Last but not least, it is interesting to note that algorithmic communication has already been identified as a key strategic issue by every fourth ECM respondent in 2016 – six years before ChatGPT took off in the last year.
The ECM 2023 report identifies five areas that will shape the future of strategic communication and need specific attention, based on the empirical data and current research which has been additionally evaluated. These topics are explained in the full report with references to additional sources:
– Leverage the potential of advanced tech and data use
– Develop rare competencies and new roles for professionals
– Reach and impact audiences in a hyperconnected world
– Lead and motivate extraordinary communication teams
– Build relationships in times of misinformation and distrust
The authors provide three theses for each area that help readers to reflect and discuss potential initiatives in their daily practice.
Study will be relaunched in 2024 with a new research design
The ECM 2023 Report concludes the successful phase of this transnational study based on a broad quantitative research design. The research project will recommence in 2024 with a new, more focused and advanced research design to be announced later this year.
The full ECM 2023 report is available as free PDF and booklet:
Zerfass, A., Tench, R., Verčič, D., Moreno, A., Buhmann, A., & Hagelstein, J. (2023). European Communication Monitor 2023. Looking back and ahead: 15 years of research on strategic communication. EUPRERA/EACD.
More information and previous studies are available at www.communicationmonitor.eu