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DIGITAL ADVOCACY

TRENDS IN 2015
Public Affairs Council European Office
D i g i t a l A d v o c a c y Tr e n d s i n 2 0 1 5

ABOUT THE PUBLIC AFFAIRS COUNCIL

The Public Affairs Council is a nonpolitical and nonpartisan organization of nearly


700 member companies and non-profits. The Council works to enhance the value
and professionalism of the public affairs practice through training, information
resources and research, enabling its members to achieve success while
maintaining the highest ethical standards.

D i g i t a l A d v o c a c y Tr e n d s i n 2 0 1 5

Survey Explores

Online Engagement in EU Advocacy

igital advocacy is one of the hottest topics in the Brussels bubble today. All organisations whether they
work in health care, energy, environment, beverages or consumer goods are looking for best practices in

influencing public discourse about their key public policy concerns and in getting their messages across to
policymakers. There is growing momentum toward online monitoring, trend analysis and stakeholder mapping,
with new and more powerful tools and applications being made available each day.
Digital Advocacy Trends in 2015, a new survey conducted by the Public Affairs Council and 3Communications,
examined a large cross section of industries to determine the spread and efficacy of digital advocacy (defined here
as advocating via blogs, social media, video and other online tools).

KEY FINDINGS INCLUDE:

t An overwhelming majority of the respondents already use digital advocacy tools and even one-third of those few
who do not, plan to do so in the next 12 months.
t

The top two goals of respondents are to promote their organisations views and engagement with policymakers.

t Twitter, newsletters, infographics, blogging and videos are the top five tools advocates use to convey their messages
and trigger engagement.
t The average time respondents spent on social media engagement is 12 hours per week.
t Seventy-three percent of respondents expect their budget for digital advocacy to increase over the next 12 months.
METHODOLOGY

In May and June 2015, the Public Affairs Council and 3Communications sent questionnaires to 2,531 Europebased corporate and trade association public affairs professionals. The survey was also promoted via social media
channels during the six-week survey period. A total of 168 usable responses were received. The median values
presented throughout this report are stated separately for each line item. The medians, taken together, do not
represent the profile of any individual company.
F O R M O R E I N F O R M AT I O N

Andrs Baneth
Public Affairs Council
abaneth@pac.org | (+32) 496 201416 | pac.org/europe

D i g i t a l A d v o c a c y Tr e n d s i n 2 0 1 5

Q1

Have you used any digital advocacy tools for professional reasons in the past 12
months? (The term digital advocacy includes websites, blogs, social media, newsletters, infographics,

video, online monitoring, stakeholder mapping tools or other channels designed to enable advocacy.)
YES

89.3%

NO

10.7%

n = 168
A N A LY S I S

While the importance of digital advocacy appears clear, those uninterested in digital advocacy would have been less
likely to have participated in the survey.

Q2

Why not? [For those who answered no to Q1]

Its not relevant to my organisation.

43.8%

Its not a priority.

18.8%

We dont have enough time.

12.5%

There are too many legal and/or administrative issues.

6.3%

We dont have the resources.

6.3%

We are not ready.

6.3%

Other

6.3%

n = 16
OTHER INCLUDES

We are not ready now, but we are really interested for the future.

D i g i t a l A d v o c a c y Tr e n d s i n 2 0 1 5

Q3

Do you plan to use any digital advocacy tools in the next 12 months?
[For those who answered no to Q1]

YES

28.6%

NO

57.1%

Maybe

1 4.3%

n = 14
A N A LY S I S

While nearly six in 10 have no plans to start using them in the next year, nearly 29 percent plan to use digital
advocacy in the near future.
It seems that most of those who will adopt, have already adopted, or are about to adopt, a digital advocacy strategy.

Q4

What was the primary objective of your digital advocacy activity in the
past 12 months? [Choose one.]

Promoting our views and increasing our visibility

38.3%

Engagement with our target audience

25.5%

Taking part in the online debate about a policy or issue


Information gathering

10.6%
9.2%

Promoting our events

7.1%

Driving visitors to our website

5.7%

We had no primary objective

1.4%

Crisis communications

0.7%

Other

1.4%

n = 141
OTHER INCLUDES

Raising awareness

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Q5

Did you reach your primary objective?

YES

28.6%

NO

57.1%

Partly

14.3%

PLEASE EXPLAIN:

n = 137
E X P L A N AT I O N S I N C L U D E

t Difficult to say. We rely on retweets and website visits plus through traffic, though the blog is not a standalone effort
and part of a number of efforts.
t Getting visibility is easy; getting people engaged is more difficult.
t Increase in followers and some interaction with those we were targeting
t It is a long-term commitment; one which has no achieved label attached to it.
t Only partly because we are not yet finished the campaign; its a long term campaign.
t Wider number of MEPs and EC officials reached than possible by ways of meetings, administration of national
governments reached without travel
t Yes: Managed to engage with our audience, give more visibility to our issue and increase number of members

Q6

What metrics do you use to measure the success of your digital advocacy activity?
[Check all that apply.]

Overall engagement (comments, shares, retweets, etc.)

59.5%

Increase in followers/influence on social media

54.2%

Traffic to our website/blog

49.6%

Number of direct contacts with key opinion leaders,


influentials or decision-makers

35.9%

Subscriptions to our newsletter

16.8%

Video views

16.8%

We arent measuring results

14.5%

Other

7.6%

n = 131

D i g i t a l A d v o c a c y Tr e n d s i n 2 0 1 5

A N A LY S I S

There seems to be no consensus regarding metrics and the definition of success. However, overall engagement,
increase in follower count on social media and traffic metrics all serve as useful indicators of a successful campaign
for most organisations.

Q7

What are the most relevant digital advocacy tools for you? [Check all that apply.]

Social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) 88.9%


Email newsletters/campaigns

46.8%

Infographics

43.7%

Blogging

36.5%

Online videos

23.8%

Photo sharing websites (Flickr, Instagram, etc.)

11.1%

Online advertising/online sponsorship

10.3%

Online petitions

8.7%

Other

1.6%

n = 126
OTHER INCLUDES

Podcasting and webinars

Q8

In a typical week, about how much time do you and your team spend on digital
advocacy?
R E S P O N S E AV E R A G E

R E S P O N S E TOTA L

12.21

1,429

n = 117
DISCLAIMER

Though team sizes vary to a great extent as they often include full- and part-time staff as well as external contractors
or agencies, on average, teams spend 12 hours a week on engagement and management of social media resources.

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This can also vary according to the industry, whether its a business-to-business or business-to-consumer organisation
or the EUs relevance to the given sector.

Q9

Approximately what percentage of your advocacy/government relations budget


is spent on digital advocacy?

P E RC E N TA G E
OF BUDGET

1-5

10

15

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

NUMBER OF
RESPONDENTS

17

30

16

11

n = 99
A N A LY S I S

Over one half of respondents specified a figure between 5 percent and 20 percent, but in some organizations, digital
advocacy takes 90 percent of the budget; others get by with zero or near-zero spending. This mainly reflects the
nature of the respondents; a digital communications agency would spend a larger part of its budget on such efforts
than would a classic corporation, for example.

Q10

Do you think this number will decrease, increase or stay the same over the
next 12 months?

Increase

64.6%

Stay the same


Decrease

33.6%
1.8%

n = 113
A N A LY S I S

Nearly two-thirds of respondents forecasting an increased allocation for digital advocacy, which underscores its growing
importance to firms seeking to make an impact in European public affairs.

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Q11

Which type of organisation do you work for?

Business

24.6%

Association

23.1%

Consultancy

20.0%

NGO/nonprofit

13.1%

EU institution or government agency

11.5%

Think tank

0.8%

Other

6.9%

n = 130

K E Y TA K E AWAY S
Digital tools are important.
Eighty-nine percent of PA professionals use digital tools for advocacy.
Digital advocacy works.
Over 60 percent of respondents who use digital advocacy tools reported meeting their primary objective through use
of those tools.
Those that see value in using digital tools are already using them.
Twenty-nine percent of non-users have plans to start using digital tools within the next 12 months.
Long-term objectives are important.
Although digital advocacy is a fast-moving medium, many of the benefits being sought are long-term.
Funding for digital advocacy is on the rise.
Nearly two-thirds of responding organizations believe their digital advocacy budget allocation will increase,
while only 2 percent think it will decrease.
Success is hard to measure.
Despite reporting success, measurement can take many forms.

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Public Affairs Council


Brussels: 22-24 Rue du Luxembourg, B-1000, (+32) 496.20.14.16
Washington, D.C.: 2121 K St. N.W., Suite 900, (+1) 202.787.5950
pac.org

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