Tag Archives: PR industry standards

Fifth GAP Study Delivers Industry Benchmarking Data…and Best Practices

28 May

The University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication has released their fifth Public Relations/Communications Generally Accepted Practices (GAP) Study.  GAP is one of the most, if not the most, comprehensive studies of key issues impacting PR practitioners.  It provides data addressing such key questions as, how much companies spend on PR and their PR agencies, how the PR organization fits within the overall organizational structure, and respondents’ attitudes about, and budgeting for, PR measurement and evaluation. 


One of the new aspects of the study was the list of Best Practices in PR/Communication identified through statistical correlations.  Here is the list of thirteen Best Practices found: 

  1. Maintain a higher than average ratio of PR budget to gross revenue (GAP PR/GR Ratio).
  2. Report directly and exclusively to the C-Suite.
  3. Optimize the C-Suite’s understanding of PR’s current and potential contributions to the success of the organization as a whole.
  4. Establish an effective social responsibility strategy for your organization.
  5. Establish an effective digital-media strategy for your organization.
  6. Establish an effective issues-management strategy for your organization.
  7. Optimize integration and coordination of PR/Communications, both within the PR/Communications function, and with other organizational functions.
  8. Encourage highly ethical practices across the organization, beginning with communication.
  9. Encourage the organization-wide adoption of a long-term strategic point of view, beginning with communication.
  10. Encourage the organization-wide adoption of a proactive mindset, beginning with communication.
  11. Encourage the organization-wide adoption of a flexible mindset, beginning with communication.
  12. Optimize the integration of PR and reputational considerations into top-level organizational strategies.
  13. Measurably contribute to organizational success.

One of the most popular aspects of the study is the section on PR budgeting as a percentage of revenue.  The GAP Study refers to this as the PR/GR Ratio (Ratio of PR Budget to Gross Revenue).  For this wave of the study, the ratio suggests large organizations spend, on average, $786 on PR for every $1 million in gross revenue.  Those from smaller companies or agencies working with smaller clients should be advised this ratio becomes nonsensical for smaller companies.  The GAP V Study skews toward larger organizations.  GAP V averages were gross revenue – $6.7B, PR budget – $4.4 million and agency fees 30% of total PR budget.


While the GAP V Study will have its critics (here’s a few from the GAP IV Study), taken in proper context it provides many useful data points that help add a little science to the art of public relations.