The relevance of communication for organisational success has become more visible than ever throughout the turbulent ups and downs of the European economy in early 2010. While some industries such as the automotive sector were able to regain trust, others found themselves in the middle of a new quest for legitimacy. Empirical evidence on the development of the profession and drivers for success has been identified by the fourth edition of the European Communication Monitor (ECM) survey. With 1,955 participants from 46 countries, the ECM 2010 is probably the largest transnational survey of public relations ever conducted worldwide. The majority of respondents (72 per cent) report that their function has gained importance during the recent recession, although only 22 per cent of them report that they were able to gain resources as compared to other departments and functions. 37.2 per cent of respondents say that their resources suffered more, and 40.8 per cent that they were able to stay on an equal footing with other departments and functions. Most interestingly, communication professionals with a strong focus on supporting organisational goals by facilitating business processes (that is by influencing consumer preferences and motivating employees) have reported a significantly better development of resources during the recession than those who favour the indirect way of building images, brands and internal cultures. This correlation points to limitations in some of the established and mainstream paradigms in corporate communications which capitalise mainly on image and reputation (that is Van Riel & Fombrun, 2007) rather than focussing on the support of business processes to achieve the organisation’s defined goals in a broader sense (that is Van Ruler & Verčič, 2005; Zerfass, 2008).
The power of leadership
Ángeles Moreno is a professor at University Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain, and currently executive director of the European Public Relations Education and Research Association (EUPRERA). She leads the Latin American Communication Monitor. Her awards include Best Paper Award EUPRERA 2013, Faculty Top Research Award PRSA 2012 and Top Paper Award ICA2006.
Professor Dejan Verčič heads the Department of Communication at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. He is a former president of the European Public Relations Education and Research Association (EUPRERA) and since 1994 organiser of BledCom.
Dr. Ansgar Zerfass is professor and chair in strategic communication at the Institute of Communication and Media Studies at the University of Leipzig, Germany. He is also professor in communication and leadership at BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo, as well as editor of the International Journal of Strategic Communication, USA, and, inter alia, Plank Scholar at The Plank Center for Leadership and Communication at the University of Alabama, USA. Current projects include, amongst others, the European Communication Monitor and Asia-Pacific Communication Monitor and Value Creating Communication, the world's most extensive research program on corporate communications conducted by with several universities and global companies.