Plank Center Sponsors, Joins Study Spanning 80 Countries

  • May 15th, 2018
The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, located in Capital Hall at UA, is shown.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — In the ever-changing world of artificial intelligence, big data and “fake news,” The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations seeks to better understand the rapid changes in the communication industry.

The center will sponsor the North American Communication Monitor, the first survey of its kind in North America, to explore the status quo, qualities and trends of communication management in North America.

The survey, launching this month, addresses topics including “fake news” and how to tackle it, how communicators provide insights for decision-making, as well as leadership performance, job satisfaction and personal stress among communication professionals in the United States and Canada.

Characteristics of excellent communication departments will be identified and benchmarked against results from other key markets in Asia-Pacific, Europe and Latin America.

The NACM is led by five professors from universities affiliated with The Plank Center, including Drs. Bruce K. Berger and Karla K. Gower, of The University of Alabama; Drs. Juan Meng and Bryan H. Reber, of the University of Georgia; and Dr. Ansgar Zerfass, of Leipzig University in Germany.

“Not only will we have a better understanding of the communication industry in North America, we will have a greater opportunity for global comparison on issues regarding integrity and trust in what we see, hear and read,” said Gower, director of The Plank Center.

The NACM becomes part of the Global Communication Monitor series, the largest regular global study in the field of strategic communication and public relations. The series, initiated and led by Zerfass with renowned PR professors across the world, has analyzed trends in the field for more than a decade and covers more than 80 countries across Europe, Latin-America and the Asia-Pacific region.

Almost 35,000 communication professionals worldwide working in diverse organizations have been surveyed. Comparative data will be made available for key markets worldwide, e.g. China, India, Germany, France, Italy, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Mexico, Canada and the United States.

“The NACM is a continuation of the Plank Center’s goal to build a research-based foundation of knowledge regarding the values, qualities and dimensions of leadership in public relations,” Reber said.

In addition to this study, the center has conducted more than 35 research studies in areas of public relations leadership, mentorship, and diversity and inclusion.

Results of the NACM will be released in October 2018. For more information on the NACM or the center, go to

The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations is the leading international resource working to support students, educators and practitioners who are passionate about the public relations profession by developing and recognizing outstanding diverse public relations leaders, role models and mentors. Founded in 2005, the Center is named after Betsy Plank, the first lady of PR. Betsy’s legacy and vision continues on in the center’s programs and initiatives to advance the profession and public relations education. For more information, visit

Contact information for the research team: 

Dr. Bruce Berger, The University of Alabama –

Dr. Karla Gower, The University of Alabama –

Dr. Juan Meng, The University of Georgia –

Dr. Bryan Reber, The University of Georgia –

Dr. Ansgar Zerfass, Leipzig University (Germany) –


Jessika White, 205-348-7250,


Rand Nelson, 205-348-6416,

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.