Chapter 8: Evaluation

The fourth step of the public relations process is evaluation.  It measures the results against established objectives set during the planning process.  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 themsevles.”

There are some basic evaluation questions all practitioners should 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 unforseen circumstances affected the success of 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?

Studies show that 4-5% of a typical public relations budget is spent on evaluations and measurement.  There are three levels:

  1. The most basic level.  Practitioners can measure message distribution and media placements. 
  2. Measures audience awareness, comprehension, and retention.
  3. This is the most advanced level.  It measures changes in attitudes, opinions, and behaviors.

Audience awareness can be measured through survey research that uses unaided recall to determine whether the audience understood and remembers the message.

A public relations practitioner can measure the audiences’ attitudes through baseline or benchmark studies. 

Other ways to measure activities in public relations are:

  1. Communication audits
  2. Pilot test and split messages
  3. Meetings and event attendance
  4. Newsletter readership

Editors of newsletters should evaluate readership annually.  These evaluations can help ascertain:

  • Reader perceptions
  • The degree to which stories are balanced
  • The kinds of stories that have high reader interest
  • Additional topics that should be covered
  • The credibility of the publication
  • The extent to which the newsletter is meeting organizational objectives

This information was taken from the book  Public Relations Strategies and Tactics, Ninth Edition by Dennis L. Wilcox and Glen T. Cameron.

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Published in: on April 27, 2009 at 11:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

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