Cost remains the greatest obstacle facing the corporate communications world and daily concern for professionals working in the industry today, according to a recent survey published by newsletter and online community Job of the Week.

That survey, which covered professionals’ top challenges within the industry, as well as the trends and measurement tactics influencing much of their current work, underscored a consistent theme of being expected to do more with communications budgets that seem to grow increasingly smaller.

Most respondents said the biggest challenge facing PR functions today is financial in design. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) cited budget as their top obstacle, followed by the task of proving value or ROI to their business (54 percent).

JOTW

Cost also consistently comprised the single greatest determining factor behind why communications agencies were fired. When agencies were let go, cost was traced to that decision 79 percent of the time, followed by service (50 percent) and results (40 percent). By contrast, 54 percent of corporate communications pros reported that they retained an outside agency because they needed an extra pair of hands; half of respondents noted that expertise or a specialty was the top reason compelling them to do so.

Meanwhile, the financial challenges facing corporate communicators comes as more than half of those polled — 57 percent — also reported experiencing an ever-expanding list of duties. About half of respondents — 51 percent — said they expected their budgets to remain about the same next year.

Communications pros also cited several key functions within the industry that they claim have become more difficult in recent years. A slight majority (51 percent) said they believe media relations is getting harder, while about a third (32 percent) claimed that it’s about the same, with only three percent saying that role is getting easier. Half of respondents (50 percent) said organic social media was getting harder as well, while only 19 percent say it’s about the same and a scant five percent say it’s getting easier.

Respondents also identified several tech tools they claim are being used increasingly in the communications world. The top five are web analytics (78 percent), social media management (75 percent); and press release distribution and media monitoring (66 percent). Content management systems followed, at 50 percent.

Within the coming year, communications professionals predicted that storytelling (79 percent), content marketing (71 percent) and thought leadership (67 percent) would be the communications trends and tactics that would be the most important to their line of work.

The JOTW 2018 Communications Survey was conducted in partnership with Atlanta, GA-based B2B technology shop Sword and Script Public Relations. It polled 155 communications professionals primarily focused on corporate communications in February. Most respondents were senior in-house PR pros in corporate communications roles. JOTW is the free email newsletter and online community founded in 2001 by IABC fellow Ned Lundquist.