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USC Annenberg center launches eighth global study of public relations

The study surveys more than 600 senior communicators.

With support from four top professional organizations, the Strategic Communication and Public Relations Center at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism has announced its eighth Generally Accepted Practices (GAP) Study.

GAP VIII serves as the cornerstone for the world’s first ongoing global study of public relations and communication management practices, to be conducted by USC in partnership with the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management (GA).

In the only known instance of their collaboration to support a single research project, the Public Relations Society of America, International Association of Business Communicators, Institute for Public Relations and the Arthur W. Page Society will encourage members to participate in GAP VIII and support publication of the findings.

The GAP Study, which originated 10 years ago, is the most comprehensive of its kind in the field of public relations. The findings are widely used by senior-level practitioners in structuring, staffing, managing and measuring their communication organizations during a time of unprecedented change. Among the topics covered: budget and staffing levels relative to organizational size, use and management of social media, shifting areas of responsibility, and the relationship between specific practices and organizational success.

The findings are made available to practitioners, educators and students free of charge, as a service to the profession.

“After seven studies over a 10-year period, GAP has achieved a strong record of consistency and reliability in the U.S.,” said Jerry Swerling, director of the Strategic Communication and Public Relations Center. “As we planned GAP VIII, it seemed clear that the time had come to apply what we have learned on an international scale.

“A partnership with the Global Alliance, which represents 160,000 practitioners and academics around the globe and was likewise exploring international research opportunities, quickly took shape,” he continued. “With GA we have formed relationships with academic and professional partners on three other continents, which will conduct GAP-like beta studies in their own countries based on our methodology. Their data will then be combined with that of GAP VIII to give us an unprecedented perspective on how our industry is progressing around the world.

“Our ultimate goal,” he added, “is to create a truly global, ongoing gauge of our profession’s evolution.”

The Arthur W. Page Society includes more than 400 members who are generally the heads of communication in major U.S. organizations; IPR explores the science underlying the practice of communication; IABC has a global network of 15,000 members; and PRSA includes 21,000 members. The GAP VIII study is supported by a grant from Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm.

Using multiple channels, the associations will encourage members to participate in GAP VIII, which will be conducted online. The survey will close in mid-December, and data will be analyzed over the following months. The findings of the U.S. study will be released in the second quarter of 2014, while those of the international study will be released in the third quarter next year.

The Strategic Communication and PR Center is part of USC Annenberg’s public relations studies unit. Its mission is to advance the study, practice and value of strategic communication and public relations by conducting applied research in partnership with other organizations.

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USC Annenberg center launches eighth global study of public relations

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