For one of my university assignments, I took a look into PR evaluation methods. It’s a topic that has provoked a lot of discussion in the industry over the years, so there was certainly a lot to write about! Here’s what I found (and luckily for you, not all 4,000 words of it)…
“It’s time as an industry we measure what matters. In doing this, it’s equally important to understand the end goals from the beginning and then build a strategy to meet them” – Molly McKenna Jandrain, director of public relations at McDonald’s
Measuring the monetary value of any PR coverage through how much space it gains – it’s advertising value equivalent.
Although it has been condemned in recent years by the PR industry as being outdated, inaccurate and not specific, there are some that argue that it can look good when reporting to a client – “Telling a client they have secured coverage with an AVE of £5m makes the PR agency look good” (Wallace, 2009).
But quite simply, it is fairly widely agreed in the industry that this is an evaluation method that is no longer relevant. Some publications do not have advertising rates. Target audience is not really considered with this method. And unfavourable coverage is given the same value as favourable coverage. All in all, an outdated method.
The Barcelona Principles
Recently updated to the Barcelona Principles 2.0, these are a set of guidelines for evaluating PR campaigns.
The pros? These principles cover all aspects of PR and a PR campaign, proving to be a comprehensive method in evaluating success. They are easy to follow and allow practitioners to look at many areas in detail. Not to mention, having recently been revised, they have been amended to suit the changing nature of the communications industry.
There are some that criticise this method for not being specific enough, but on the whole, I believe they are a great set of guidelines for evaluation.
Effectiveness Yardstick Model
A model with three levels to allow a practitioner to measure the effectiveness of a campaign.
This method is commended for being routed in objective setting, encouraging a good framework to work from. It takes into account many levels of PR, from media mentions to whether a message has been received and acted upon. However, it has been said to be more basic than other methods, which is something to consider when thinking about evaluation.
Preparation, Implementation and Impact
A method that suggests different steps for different levels of PR evaluation. A fairly versatile model that reflects different stages of a campaign, separating outputs and outcomes.
So there you have it. A quick run down of just some PR evaluation methods and their advantages and disadvantages.
What do you think? What methods do you use? Let me know in the comments.
Until next time…