Data Roundup: Gen Z Journalists, Rejecting RTO, CCO Responsibilities Grow

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This month's data roundup takes a look at where young journalists are looking for sources, communications workers exploring the flexibility of freelance and the continually expanding role of the Chief Communications Officer.

Gen Z Journalists Promote Purpose

Young journalists are turning to top-tier publications and expert sources for research and reporting to generate story ideas, research topics and to vet information, according to latest research from Greentarget, “Next-Gen Journalists: Navigating Misinformation, AI & The Future of Journalism.”

“This point should be refreshing for any PR executive representing authoritative subject matter experts or think tanks, as they should feel confident, that they are offering up something these journalists are looking for, and that these journalists understand the value credible voices can add to their reporting,” says Lisa Seidenberg, director of media relations at Greentarget.

The report also highlights that, similar to other Gen Z employees, younger journalists are also approaching their careers with a sense of purpose. According to the report, top motivations for pursuing journalism are providing information to the public for informed decisions (62%), exposing injustice (58%), and fighting misinformation and disinformation (45%). They also seek to hold governments and institutions accountable (29%).

While Seidenberg believes this to be help for communicators looking to promote initiatives tied to ESG, DEI or CSR, she cautions: “keep in mind that Gen Z journalists are driven by exposing injustice, holding governments and institutions accountable, and fighting misinformation and disinformation. PR practitioners should be buttoned up [before promoting these initiatives] as this next generation of reporters is willing to call out organizations for transgressions in these areas.”

Comms Pros Reject RTO

If you can't beat em—leave.

Return to office policies and industry layoffs aren't stopping communications professionals. According to new research released by Fiverr Pro, 61% of full-time or part-time marketing professionals have looked at freelance opportunities because of their current employer's RTO policy.

And RTO is not just hurting retention, but also recruitment. The survey revealed the majority of marketing professionals (53%) would not consider applying for a job if it required them to be in the office full-time or even part-time.

And that's not a scary proposition anymore—going out on your own. That's because the study also found 45% of marketing leaders' surveyed said their teams are make up of freelancers. Many organizations are turning to freelance workers when an organization must conduct layoffs. Of the marketing leaders surveyed who have overseen layoffs, 83% turned to contract workers for specific expertise that was lost.

Shai-Lee Spigelman, General Manager of Fiverr Pro says managers working on their 2024 workforce strategy should incorporate/consider freelancers as part of the plan.

"With the majority of workers prioritizing flexibility and their work-life balance, I would prepare businesses who want to push ahead with RTO policies to expect some fallout from their employees and consider what this will mean for their workforce strategy," Spigelman says. "Freelance talent provides fresh perspectives, augments full-time employees, fills critical skills gaps for specific projects, and can be quickly deployed to ensure that the right level of support is applied across the business as necessary."

The State of the Chief Communications Officer

And regardless if any downturn the industry may be experiencing, PR professionals continue to see growing responsibilities facing their profession.

As businesses experience economic uncertainties and increasing stakeholder expectations, Edelman's latest edition of the Future of Corporate Communications provides a look at the pending priorities for today’s communications leaders and how their position impacts the success and strategy of the business.

Some of the largest takeaways from the study show that communications leaders are increasingly in the executive room for advice on strategy. According to respondents, "50% of CCOs polled view themselves as strategic advisors or partners to their company's top management, a significant increase from the roughly one-third who held this perspective two years ago."

And because of this, CCOs are welcoming an expansion of responsibility, but as we noted above, they are still being asked to do more with less. Edelman reports that "approximately 18% of their current workload involves advising the CEO on matters unrelated to communication activities."

For an in-depth analysis of the role of the CCO and how it relates to employee engagement, ESG and more, check out the Edelman report.