Module 7 Blog Topic: Apart from campaign outcomes, what, if anything, can a public relations practitioner learn from the evaluation of a campaign?
A public relations (PR) practitioner can learn a great deal from the evaluation of a campaign, in fact, understanding and learning from the evaluating process supports the fundamentals of effective public relations. The four essential steps for effective public relations are:
- Research – Gain information about the campaign’s target public
- Planning – Central management function. Determine objectives and strategies.
- Communication – Create a persuasive message for the target public
- Evaluation / Measurement – Accountability
The evaluation / measurement stage and the key accountability information learned from this process include:
- Assessment of campaign’s budget – Was too much spent? Are the costs justifiable?
- Assessment of all areas used in the campaign – Were all efforts involved effective?
- Assessment of objectives – Were all goals and objectives met?
There are many measurement techniques used in PR campaigns that are used from a variety of sources. Wilcox et al. (2013, p.128) states “sophisticated techniques are used, including computerised news clip analysis, survey sampling, quasi-experimental designs in which the audience is divided into groups that see different aspects of a public relations campaign, and attempts to correlate efforts directly with sales.” Macnamara (2002) explains the PR practitioner will also learn from these methods that the overall value of a campaign can be measured, and most importantly, the evaluation stage is the only stage which can determine the ultimate accountability measure; Return on Investment (ROI). The definition of ROI (Entrepreneur Encyclopaedia 2014) is the most common profitability ratio with many ways to be measured. A ROI has been increasingly used by PR practitioners to demonstrate campaign results to decision-makers and other stakeholders (Curtis 2013).
With all the above mentioned evaluation techniques and information available, a PR practitioner can gain a significant range of knowledge, as well as gain a well-informed perspective for future events/campaigns.
Curtis, T 2005, ‘ROI or evidence-based PR: The language of public relations evaluation’, PRism Online Journal, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 1-10, viewed 20 December 2014, http://www.prismjournal.org/fileadmin/Praxis/Files/Journal…/Watson.pdf
Entrepreneur Encyclopaedia 2014, Return on investment, viewed 20 December 2014, https://www.google.com.au/search?output=search&sclient=psy-ab&q=ROI+defintion&btnK=
Macnamara, J 2002, ‘PR Metrics – Research for Planning and Evaluation of PR and Corporate Communication‘, MASS Communication Group, NSW. http://www.pria.com.au/sitebuilder/resources/knowledge/…/prmetricspaper.pdf
Wlicox D, Cameron G, Reber B and Shin JH 2013, Think Public Relations, 2nd edn, Pearson Education, New Jersey.