How Canada’s approach to earned media differs from the rest of the world

The methods are different, but a survey finds budgets and data are global challenges.

Canadian PR and communications departments are taking notably different approaches than their global counterparts, but they’re facing many of the same hurdles when it comes to budgets and data capabilities.

That’s according to the third annual Global Comms Report from Cision and PRWeek. The survey polled 527 senior PR and marketing professionals at both agencies and clients. Respondents came from seven different markets: Canada, U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Sweden, and China.

On a global scale, 27% of respondents believe mainstream journalists have the most power when it comes to influencing consumer purchase decisions (up from 16% who said the same in last year’s study), with 60% putting them among the top three influencers.

However, Canada is slightly out of step with global trends: only 15% of respondents here believe journalists have the most influence, and only 39% put them in the top three. On the flip side, Canadian respondents were bigger believers in “everyday consumers” like friends and family, with 24% saying they had the most influence and 66% putting them in the top three (compared to 22.5% and 50% who said the same globally).

The biggest challenge in comms is tightening budgets, with 21% of global respondents (versus 32% of Canadians) citing it as their top challenge, while 57% (versus 59% of Canadians) identify those budget constraints as one of their top three challenges.

The second-biggest challenge was an inability to measure the impact of comms programs, with 20% citing it as the top challenge globally and 54% putting it in the top three. In Canada, 68% have responded to this challenge by devoting at least 10% of their budget to measuring comms programs, which is up from 57% who said the same last year and higher than the global rate of 51%. It’s also a stark contrast to the U.S., where only 34% of respondents devote at least 10% of their budget to comms measurement.

A similar trend was observed when it came to paying influencers: 65% of Canadian respondents said paid influencer programs were at least somewhat important to their strategy, compared to 58% who said the same globally and 41% who said so in the U.S.

While the investment in data is increasing, those in comms functions are still lagging behind their counterparts in marketing: 65% of those in communications said they were confident in their ability to measure how many people actually read the content they produce, that’s compared to 75% of marketers who said the same.

Those gaps are even greater when it comes to measuring the impact on the path-to-purchase. While 52% of marketers said they could tell what a consumer did after consuming a piece of content, and 56% could tell if there was any digital or “real world” behaviour driven by the content, only 36% and 45% of comms staff, respectively, could say the same.