Leaders exert significant influence on the success, future and image of their profession. Yet, only a few public relations 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.

Below is a list of the Center’s research:


  • Report Card on Public Relations 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 in this biennial study.
  • North American Communication Monitor – The North American Communication Monitor (NACM), sponsored by The Plank Center, is the first survey of its kind in North America to explore the status quo, qualities and trends of communication management practice in Canada and the United States.
  • Leadership & Mentorship in the Lives of Accomplished Millennials: Implications for Practice – Drs. Elina Erzikova and Diana Martinelli examine the extent to which mentorship, leadership development and organizational culture helped award-winning millennial PR professionals succeed.
  • Self-Reflection in Public Relations Leaders: A Study of its Practice and Value in Russia and North America – As seen in the Public Relations Journal with PRSA and the Institute for Public Relations, Drs. Bruce K. Berger and Elina Erzikova examine self-reflection as a foundational tool in global public relations leadership and offer practical insights on how to improve the tools in the classroom and practice.
  • Leadership Development Cycle: A Cross-Cultural Perspective – The first known attempt to understand the process and various stages of leadership development in public relations specialists across cultural boundaries.
  • Millennial Communication Professionals – A study by The Plank Center and the Institute for Public Relations of millennial communication professionals confirms their generational differences but concludes some differences will help advance and enrich the profession.
  • 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 found several key themes — relationships are key; workplace diversity is embraced; leadership development is expected; technological savviness is innate; and social responsibility is a workplace enhancement.
  • Global Leadership Study – To date, it’s the largest study of leadership in public relations with 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.


  • Mentoring Research and Best Practices White Paper – Drawing from more than 100 sources, this paper includes insights, educational takeaways, steps to create mentoring programs, evaluation processes and mentoring research strengths and weaknesses.

Diversity & Inclusion

Additional Research:

The document below 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.