2018 survey: Comms in the UK housing sector

May 30, 2018

Busy UK housing communications professionals rarely get time to meet other comms teams to compare teams and work experiences.

So in early 2018, I asked PR and comms practitioners in the sector to take a short survey, where they could honestly answer how work is for them right now.

Some patterns have emerged, and I have drawn an infographic showing statistics and comments that illustrate the more prominent trends I found in the data.

For those who prefer words to scrawls, I have also written my findings in this post, below.

Thank you SO much to those of you who completed the survey, and those who shared it with others.

You can download the housing comms infographic, or look at all the data in the housing survey too – however, people’s comments have been removed so as not to identify any of the kind respondents who so frankly answered.

You can also read my article about this in 24Housing: A housing comms cry for strategy.

Headline stats and quotes: the story of housing comms in 2018

The housing communications professionals who responded to the survey LOVE their work.

“It’s rewarding connecting customers with the information and services they need.”

“The people in my team and the organisation are very hard-working, passionate and kind.”

“I love being able to tell stories about how we’ve supported people to turn their lives around for the better.”

There are so many areas of expertise expected from comms teams. 

In housing, individuals are expected to be multi-skilled.  Those surveyed are digital superstars, taking responsibility for their organisation’s social media and website, as well as more traditional PR functions.

  • 92% reported that social media is part of their role.
  • 87% have website communications as part of their role
  • 86% have campaigns and marketing as part of their role
  • 85% have internal communications as part of their role
  • 76% produce video and photography as part of their role

Housing communications professionals keep up to date with current issues.

  • 85% read industry magazine Inside Housing.
  • 81% read 24 Housing
  • 62% read the Guardian’s housing and society  coverage
  • 36% read PR Week
  • 27% read Influence, the CIPR magazine

However, they’re under-resourced.

  • 41% say their team is understaffed
  • 54% don’t have time to effectively manage communities
  • 33% have three or fewer members of the comms team

Many housing communications teams feel like they don’t get adequate support from leaders in their organisation.

  • Half of those survey said leaders in their organisation underestimate their work.

Hot topics to communicate in 2018 are:

  • Universal Credit
  • GDPR
  • Fire safety
  • Shared ownership

The topic most communicated about last year? News about our own organisations. 

People responded that topics they most communicated were:

  • 63% Organisation news
  • 45% Universal Credit
  • 45% Fire safety
  • 45% Affordable housing

Perhaps once communications gets the necessary respect and resources needed, we can address the elephant in the room…

The housing sector talks too much about and to itself.

“The sector is way too inward-looking… a great example of an echo-chamber.”

In summary, housing communications professionals have a sense of purpose and enjoy their work. But the sector needs to ensure they have resources, understanding and respect.

Next steps for the sector are to create the conditions where communications teams can thrive;  and to steer clear of talking only about ourselves, to ourselves.

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  1. angeangel

    Very interesting read and love the cartooncomicinfographics a nice way to read

    • Hel Reynolds

      Thank you for the kind comment and the amazing word ‘cartooncomicinfographics’! I wanted to visualise the data and thought I’d go with what I enjoy most!


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Hel Reynolds

Hel Reynolds

Author of this post

Hel is social media trainer and boss of Comms Creatives. She has been working in comms since 2005, and has been brushing up her expertise in social media for brands since the good old days of MySpace. She also draws the Comms Cartoons, and is usually attached to a mug of coffee.

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