Chapter 8: Evaluation

18 04 2009

(Notes from Public Relations:  Strategies and Tactics 9th Edition by Dennis L. Wilcox and Glen T. Cameron)

•  Professor James Bissland defines evaluation as, “the systematic assessment of a program and its results.  It is a means for practitioners to offer accountability to clients-and to themselves.”

Frank Wylie summarizes his idea on evaluation:

“We are talking about an orderly evaluation of our profress in attaining the specific objectives of our public relations plan.  We are learning what we did right, what we did wrong, how much profress we’ve made and, most importantly, how we can do it better next time.”

•  Before you begin your evaluation, you must have objectives.  Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Was the activity or program adequately planned?
  • Did the recipients of the message understand it?
  • How could the program strategy have been more effective?
  • Were all primary and secondary audiences reached?
  • Was the desired organizational objective achieved?
  • What unforeseen circumstances affected the success o the program or activity?
  • Did the program or activity fall within the budget set for it?
  • What steps can be taken to improve the success of similar future activities?

Most widely used methods for evaluating public relations efforts:

  1. Measurement of production
  2. Message exposure
  3. Audience awareness
  4. Audience attitudes
  5. Audience action
  • Measurement of Media Exposure

                -Media Impressions:  The number of how many people have been exposed to a message.

                -Hits on the Internet:  How many people search a company/organization

               – Advertising Equivalency (AVE):  Calculating the value of the message exposure.  “This is done by converting stories in the regular news                                                                                         columns or on the air into equivalent advertising costs.”

             –  Systematic Tracking:  “Computer software and databases can now be used to analyze the content of media placements by such variables as                                                                market penetration, type of publication, tone of coverage, sources quoted, and mention of key copy points.

              -Requests and 800 Numbers:  To compile the number of requests for more information.  (Often they give an 800 #).

             – Return on Investment (ROI):  To determine the cost of reaching each member of the audience.

              -Audience Attendance:  Counting attendance at events.

•  During evaluation, the measurement of audience awareness, attitude, and action are extremely important.

•  Other forms of measurement in public relations:

  1. Communication Audits:  “The entire communication activity of an organization should be evaluated at least once a year to make sure that every primary and seconday public is receiving appropriate messages.”                                                                                                                                         –  Communication Audits would include:
  • “Analysis of all communication activities-newsletters, memos, policy statements, brochures, annual reports, position papers, mailing lists, media contacts, personel forms, graphics, logos, advertising, receptionist contacts, waiting lounges for visitors, and so on.”
  • “Informal interviews with rank-and-file employees and middle management and top executives.”
  • “Informal interviews with community leadres, media gatekeepers, consumers, distributors, and other influential persons in the industry.”
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