New research out this week (as published by PR Week) shows that only 41% of the companies surveyed have a PR practitioner at executive level. It’s a worrying stat – as the same survey points out 84% of senior comms professionals feel that communications has the biggest influence on corporate reputation. The survey has focused on in house expertise, but in our experience this is a key issue for agency based PRs as well. We find that our clients get the best out of us when we are included in discussions at the highest level – most frequently because potential communications issues can be identified, addressed and planned for effectively when you involve people with the right skills and knowledge early in the process. Problems occur when, because of a lack of PR input at the top level, a ‘head in the sand’ approach is taken to crises rather than addressing issues head on and dealing with them on the front foot.