Measurement is the step of the public relations (PR) process involving ‘the evaluation of results against agreed-upon objectives that are established during planning’ (Wilcox et al. 2013, p.127). Without measurement, management won’t know whether the organisational objectives were accomplished and whether results justify the efforts of the campaign. According to the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA), it is important for PR professionals to provide ‘evidence-based, credible results and demonstrate return on investment’ (PRIA 2014) by completing research, objectives and measurement techniques and ongoing evaluation. Including these steps as part of standard practice are central to the PR industry gaining, developing and increasing maturity and credibility (PRIA 2014).
Image 1 shows the Australian PR Evaluation Model (PRIA 2014) which outlines how measurement and evaluative techniques can be used to help achieve organisational objectives and make improvements based on outcomes of the PR campaign.
Image 1 (Source: PRIA 2014)
A campaign’s expenditure and timelines can be planned and evaluated by the use of a Gantt chart and spreadsheets to compare the planned expenditure and timeline to the actual outcomes. These results can be evaluated to define areas of improvement. Wilcox et al (2013) suggest that results and effectiveness can be evaluated by measurement of:
- Message distribution and media placements
- Audience awareness, comprehension and retention
- Changes in attitudes, opinions and behaviours
Measuring and evaluating progress throughout a campaign is critical to its success as it may offer vital feedback to suggest that tactics or organisational attitudes should change, allowing management to make appropriate adjustments (Wilcox et al. 2013). Thorough measurement, evaluation and research is conducted after the PR campaign to analyse inputs, outputs, outtakes and outcomes to report on the overall success of the campaign and improve the value of future PR activities (PRIA 2014).
Public Relations Institute of Australia 2014, ‘Statement of Principles on Best Practice in PR Measurement and Evaluation’, viewed 26 April 2015, www.pria.com.au
Wilcox, DL, Cameron, GT, Reber, BH & Shin, JH 2013, Think: Public Relations, Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.