In the book, Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques, chapter 19 discusses the importance of measuring success. There are many reasons why you should measure success and it’s importance listed in the book. Some of the reasons the reading lists are to document if PR efforts actually achieved objectives, apply lessons learned to future PR efforts, to demonstrate the practitioners are actually doing their jobs, and show the impact PR had on the organization.
The book goes on to discuss how important it is to first have the management and PR professionals agree on criteria that is used to evaluate. This can make a big difference on how you structure your campaign. It also makes readers aware that they shouldnt wait until the last minute or the end of the campaign to determine how successs will be evaluated. Another good thing to remember when thinking about measuring success is to ensure your objectives are not vague.
There are many ways to evaluate and measure success of a campaign. One of the ways is to focus on the measurement of production and distribution. This method focuses on the number of news releases, feature stories, photos, etc. that were produced for the campaign. This is not a great method always because it lacks meaning. Instead of focusing on quality of materials produced, this method focuses on quantity.
The most common way to evaluate PR programs is to measure the message exposure. This is a compilation of print stories, broadcast mentions, and number of visitors to websites. Many use the media mentions to evaluate success but today it is becoming more relevant to know who is being reached by the message and what they are doing once they are reached.
The book lists many ways to play “the numbers game” when measuring success of campaigns such as media impressions and advertising value equivalency. These are important but now there are more systematic content analysis that can be done thanks to computer and various software programs known as systematic tracking systems.
Measuring audience awareness is important when evaluating PR success. This can be done using surveys asking audience what they remembered about the message. Measuring audience attitudes is extremely vital because it will decided if audience actually changed its attitudes and opinions. One way to do this is to conduct benchmark studies, which means to sample the opinions of the target audience before and after the campaign.
Measurement of action is also discussed in the book. While it is hard to accomplish this it is easy to measure. By using sales figures, market share, or voting results one can see the results of measurement of action.
Once a campaign is over and you have finished with the evaluation stage, you need to report the results to the client. When you are reporting to your client you need to refer to the original plan and state what you accomplished under the categories of situation, audience, objectives, strategy, tactics, timing, and costs.
While chapter 18 and 19 in the book were important , I think the tactics are the most important part of any public relations campaign. These are the tangible materials that you decide to produce because it was the medium you decided best for the objectives. It is always good to go back and look at what other publications or materials might have accomplished your objectives differently. It is also good to remember what you could have done differently or better so you can make those changes for future campaigns. Since we spent a lot of the semester discussing types of tactics and how to produce materials, I think everyone would agree that is a huge part of all PR campaigns that everyone should take tactics seriously.