Success in Public Relations: The Heyman-Berger Study

Instructor: Brianna Whiting

Brianna has a masters of education in educational leadership, a DBA business management, and a BS in animal science.

Strong leaders help a company reach goals and objectives. In this lesson we will learn about the Heyman-Berger Study on how leaders in the public relations industry were doing and what the results said about the performance of executives and management.

A First Look at the Heyman and Berger Study

You all know the saying that a company is only as strong as its leaders. That being said, many different businesses within many different industries rely on strong, confident leaders to motivate employees and ensure that the objectives and goals of the company are achieved. The field of public relations (PR) is no exception and even designated a study to better understand how those in leadership roles are performing. In this lesson, we will learn about the Heyman-Berger Study, which surveyed how well top executives and managers in the public relations industry were doing. In addition to rating the performance of their superiors, employees were surveyed on workplace culture, trust in their organization, job satisfaction, and their perception on their own performance.

Basics of the Survey

The survey was conducted by the Plank Center, which was established in 2005 by the University of Alabama Board of Trustees. Dr. Bruce Berger and President and CEO of Heyman Associates, William Heyman, developed the study in order to understand how well leadership is being practiced and to recognize the gaps. Knowing where the problems with leadership lie can help the Plank Center and others create solutions to minimize the gaps and build a stronger PR industry.

Report Card

The study, asked participants to rate or assign a grade in certain areas and uncovered a huge difference in what leaders rated their own performance and the grade their employees actually felt they deserved. The following are the results of the survey:


The top leaders gave their performance an A-, which indicated that they felt they were doing a good job. However, employees gave top leaders a C+. While employees felt that leaders were doing a good job at strategic decision making and being ethical, they felt a need for improvement in the areas of relationship-building skills, team leadership skills, and vision.


Leaders received a B+ for their work in engagement. The study found that more leaders are engaged in the public relations field than in many other professions. Sixty percent of leaders were engaged, while those in higher positions as well as those in the industry for a long time were the most engaged. Also, Women were seen as more engaged than men.


When it came to trusting that the organization would keep their word and keep the well-being of the employees in mind when making decisions, participants assigned a C+ grade. Participants trusted that the organization could reach their goals and objectives, but they had little confidence in the company's consideration of the employees when making decisions or keeping their word.


The next graded category was job satisfaction. Two-thirds of participants were satisfied with their jobs, which led to a grade of B-. Those in higher-ranking positions seemed to be more satisfied with their careers than those lower in the ranks.


When it came to the environment, or culture, in which the participants worked and the processes for communication, employees assigned a B- grade. The study determined that employees felt the CEO had a great understanding of public relations and highly valued the industry. Shared decision making, two-way communication, and diversity however, received a low grade.

Major Gaps

In this section, we will look at the gaps that need to be addressed in order to enhance leadership in the public relations industry.


Obviously, the higher you work your way up in a company, the more responsibilities you are given. This often comes with more respect, privileges, and even more money. Thus, it is not surprising that those in top leadership roles gave themselves better ratings than those employees working at lower-ranked or entry-level jobs. In order to improve this gap in perception, leaders can focus on creating better two-way communication, sharing power, and improving people skills to build relationships and encourage teamwork.

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