Report Card on PR Leaders

The Report Card on Public Relations Leaders is a biennial study that began in 2015 to survey leaders and their employees on leadership performance, job satisfaction, organizational trust, organizational culture and job engagement. As it stands with the Report Card 2019, leadership in the field remains pretty average; improvement seems elusive. The urgency to act is now.

Report Card 2019

Is improving public relations leadership on the profession’s radar screen? According to The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations’Report Card 2019PR leaders received an overall grade of “C+”, reflecting little change from previous studies in 2015 and 2017.

Nationwide, 828 PR leaders and professionals evaluated five fundamental areas of leadership linked to outcomes in our field—organizational culture, leadership performance, organizational trust, work engagement and job satisfaction.

While grades did not shift from 2017, job engagement, organizational trust and job satisfaction dropped a bit. Even more concerning, previously reported gaps grew even more.

Download the Report Card 2019 (PDF)

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Report Card 2017

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.

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“You can’t go out and buy a bottle of secret leadership sauce, but you can upgrade your leadership software by taking these five steps.”

Report Card 2015

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.

Article: Things Look Differently at the Top


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.