Evaluation – PR Context

What may be the most important part of the campaign process is the evaluation of the campaign. All campaigns need to have a form of measure at the end to be able to judge whether or not the campaign was a success or not. An evaluation does not always turn out positive either. Often times, a campaign may need work or adjustments because the results from the strategies and tactics did not turn out the way that was intended.

Evaluation in public relations, as well as strategies and tactics, are no new matter. “During the more than 100 years outlined in this paper, the fascination of practitioners with media relations strategies and tactics has remained consistently prominent…However, academic discussion of measurement and evaluation took more than 70 years to get traction, with the 1970’s being the starting point” (Hester, 2009, p. 472-473). For over a century, evaluating campaigns have grown and been reshaped by results stemming from extensive primary research. Much of what this paper reiterates is that even though the quantitative and qualitative measurability ideas have adapted drastically over time, the importance of the evaluation in the campaign process has extremely increased.

PRISA, a leader in public relations and communications management, states something that appears to be a trend. I’ve seen in multiple articles that the Barcelona Declaration of 2010 set the “first globally accepted guideline of public relations management.” The biggest point made by this is that “outcomes are preferred to measuring media results” (Why, 2013). What this is saying is that it has become more desired to create a measurability based on solid research results than easy quantitative media numbers. This is because even though media results are much easier to interpret and measure, they might have truly proven to affect the business itself.

In addition to the importance of evaluation, expectations in relation to evaluation must also be managed. It is far from successful to set expectations on a national level, and only achieve a level that didn’t exceed even a local level. “If your CEO expected a front-page story in The Wall Street Journal and your biggest success was a feature article in an environmental magazine, you need to manage expectations and set mutual goals prior to your next PR program” (Johnson, 2014). In essence, it is healthy for a public relations practitioner to maintain a mutual, healthy expectation and goal setting between the organization and the target audience. In doing so, the organization will not have an expectation come crashing down on top of them in the midst of losing money, and the target audience will not be let down from the standard set so high beforehand.

The evaluation process continues to grow the be one of the most crucial pieces in the entire campaign process. For years, practitioners have stressed result analysis in order to find what can be improved, what was done well, and what can be done for next time. Without a proper evaluation, how can any organization or PR firm be sure if what they are doing is working or not?

References

Hester, J. B. (2009). Public relations metrics: Research and evaluation. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 86(2), 472-473. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/762957631?accountid=39473

Johnson, K. (2014). Evaluation Techniques Used in PR. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/evaluation-techniques-used-pr-61478.html

Why evaluate public relations coverage and the role of measurement. (2013, August 1). Retrieved from http://www.prisa.co.za/membership/594-why-evaluate-public-relations-coverage-and-the-role-of-measurement-august-2013

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