Evaluation in the last letter in the famous public relations acronym, R.A.C.E. As discussed in previous blog posts, the acronym covers the four steps to a PR campaign; Research, Action, Communication, and Evaluation. Evaluation measures the outcome of the action and communication of a company. This is where those working in public relations see the results of their campaign.
Bill West or Demand Media states what evaluation in public relations is and why it is important in the field,
“Evaluation of public relations activities is important in measuring a firm’s success. PR professionals should, therefore, measure the outcome of PR activities against a client’s expected business goals. Each activity should be evaluated individually to ascertain its effectiveness. Various techniques are available to evaluate effectiveness of PR efforts” (West, par 1).
West perfectly describes the purpose of evaluations in PR. Evaluations let firms know that if they do fail in reaching their objectives then they now know what to do and what not to do. Many companies may have to go through numerous campaign plans before receiving a positive evaluation.
In the book chapter, Evaluating PR campaigns, measuring campaign outcomes is explained,
“You may be able to measure and evaluate the success during and after your campaign by looking at the following: sales figures, changes in behaviour, voting patterns and numbers, website hits, enquiries. However, it is difficult to isolate the impact of a PR campaign from other factors that may influence these measures, for example, advertising or other promotional activities not associated with the campaign” (Evaluating PR, pg. 3).
This helps explain the variety of methods that evaluating public relations and points out the challenges that come with with different campaigns. Every campaign is different and every client or company may want to analysis different results. It is important to look at how each objective should be specifically measure in order to evaluate the campaign properly.
Business Matters published an article with five tips on what a good public relations campaign evaluation looks like,
“Tip 1: Often evaluation is seen as something that is done at the end of a campaign. It is not. For evaluation to be truly effective and genuinely meaningful it has to go right through from start to finish. Tip 2: Do not evaluate everything at the same time. The secret to truly effective evaluation in PR is to evaluate each part of the particular campaign incrementally rather than the whole campaign at once. Tip 3: if the media coverage does not result in the target audience actually acting on the “call to action” in the PR communications campaign then this raises the question has it really been effective? Tip 4: It is critical to recognise that evaluation has a financial cost to it as well as the actual campaign itself. Tip 5: To evaluate PR campaigns effectively the objectives always need to be clearly defined and agreed right from the very beginning” (Business Matters).
These five tips are helpful to all of those creating a evaluation for a public relations campaign. All of the tips help diminish some of the myths of PR and really help a firm and their client succeed in measuring the success of the campaign.
Evaluation in public relations is more than just evaluating all of the results of the campaign at the end. It is about understanding what is being measured before the action has taken place. Evaluation lets the public relations firm and their client know if their campaign was a success or if they need to go back to the drawing board. Although there can be speed bumps along the way, there would be no point to any campaign if no evaluation took place to understand and interparate the final results.
Business Matters (Ed.). (2013, November 3). Five principles of good PR campaign evaluation – Business Matters. Retrieved December 1, 2014, from http://www.bmmagazine.co.uk/in-business/advice/21881/five-principles-good-pr-campaign-evaluation/
Evaluating PR campaigns. (n.d.). In Unit 6: Understanding public relation campaign planning (pp. 2-4). http://www.contentextra.com/publicrelations/files/topicguides/PR_TopicGuide_6_3.pdf
West, B. (n.d.). Evaluation Techniques Used in PR. Retrieved December 1, 2014, from http://yourbusiness.azcentral.com/evaluation-techniques-used-pr-21450.html