Leaders exert significant influence on the success, future and image of their profession. Yet, only a few PR studies have explored this important topic. One goal of the Plank Center is to build a research-based foundation of knowledge regarding the values, qualities and dimensions of excellent leadership in PR. Here’s a complete list of the Center’s research.

2017 Report Card on Public Relations Leaders

In 2015 the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations and Heyman Associates produced its first Report Card on PR Leaders. Leaders earned passing grades for the five areas examined—leadership performance, job engagement, trust in the organization, work culture and job satisfaction—but crucial gaps highlighted areas for improvement.

Nearly 1,200 PR leaders and professionals in the U.S. recently completed the same survey. Grades for leadership performance and trust were unchanged in 2017 but slipped for work culture, job engagement and job satisfaction. The overall grade for PR leaders fell from B- to C+. Gaps between leaders’ and employees’ perceptions of the five areas remained wide, while gender differences deepened.

Download the Entire Leadership Report Card (PDF)

Dr. Bruce Berger presents the findings in this recorded presentation.
Access: Webinar RecordingSlide Presentation

Public Relations Leadership Development Cycle: A Cross-Cultural Perspective

The study of leadership has a long history, but this cross-cultural exploratory study by The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations is the first known attempt to understand the process and various stages of leadership development in public relations specialists. Featuring participants from Brazil, China, India, Russia and the United States, the study details and provides insight into similarities and variances across cultural boundaries while outlining the timeline of the leadership development cycle in terms of when practitioners begin to exhibit certain qualities.

Download the full report on the Leadership Development Cycle (PDF)

Millennial Communication Professionals

Millennials are often criticized for the different values, qualities and skills they bring to work. However, a new study by The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations and the Institute for Public Relations of millennial communication professionals (MCPs) confirms their generational differences but concludes some differences (e.g., millennials’ strong values for diversity, transparency and social responsibility) will help advance and enrich the profession.

Click here for the complete findings of the millennial study.

Millennial Study: Perspectives on Integrating the Newest Generation of Top Talent into PR & Communications

How do you attract, manage and develop the next generation of PR leaders? Researchers, Dr. Juan Meng, Holley Reeves (doctoral candidate) and Dr. Bryan Reber, interviewed millennial PR professionals and the executives who hire and manage them. Several key themes emerged — relationships are key; workplace diversity is embraced; leadership development is expected; technological savviness is innate; and social responsibility is a workplace enhancement.

Download the PowerPoint.

Leadership Report Card

The first Plank Center Leadership Report Card on communication leaders highlights a Grand-Canyon-sized gap between leaders’ evaluations of their own performance and those of their employees. Leaders earned high marks for work engagement but lagged in job satisfaction, workplace trust and culture.

The grades are based on a survey* of 838 U.S. public relations executives and managers that was conducted by the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations and Heyman Associates. Survey participants rated the performance of their top PR leader and the quality of their workplace culture, and then evaluated their own levels of work engagement, trust in their organization, and job satisfaction. Grades were assigned based on mean scores for professionals’ responses. Click here for the full report card.


Global Leadership Study

The Plank Center, and sponsors Heyman Associates and IBM, conducted the largest study of leadership in public relations.

  • Nearly 4,500 practitioners in 23 countries completed an online survey in nine languages.
  • The Global Leadership study explores key issues in the profession, how PR leaders manage them and how we can improve the preparation of communication leaders for an uncertain and complex future.

Click here for more findings on the Global Leadership Study or download the findings.

Download the presentation from 2014 PRSA Conference.

Additional Research:

The document provides abstracts for many of the 20 leadership studies carried out. The Center provided grants for some of the projects; others were carried out by additional professors and graduate students from various colleges and universities, and by Center board members.


Leaders exert significant influence on the success, future and image of their profession. Yet, only a few PR studies have explored this important topic.

One goal of the Plank Center is to build a research-based foundation of knowledge regarding the values, qualities and dimensions of excellent leadership, mentorship and diversity and inclusion in PR.