PR Evaluation: Reality or Pipe Dream?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

PR Toolkit

As I mentioned yesterday, the IPR along with the PRCA, AMEC and PR week created in 1999 the PR Toolkit, a framework of measurable objectives to encourage a wide audience to rethink their planning and evaluation techniques (written by Michael Fairchild). As noted in PR Week by Kate Nicholas (30/04/1999), “this practical guide to R&E moves the debate beyond why measure, to how to measure. The toolkit recognizes the diversity of the disciplines known generically as PR, the range of audiences with which one interacts and the way in which PR is expected to interact with other disciplines”. The Toolkit suggests a sequence of five steps as part of the planning process:
1. Audit of existing communications and background,
2. Constructing of objectives,
3. Strategy and planning,
4. Ongoing Measurement and
5. Results and Evaluation.
The Toolkit puts emphasis on the fact that there is no single industry-wide-measure, but there is a wide variety of tools available. As Lindenmann (1993) already noticed some years ago, “there is no one simplistic method for measuring PR effectiveness…an array of different tools and techniques is required to properly assess PR impact”.
The disappointing thing is that 5 years after, there is no actual change in the attitude of the practitioners towards evaluation. A PR Week 2004 Survey showed that 68% of companies spend 3% or less of their PR budget on evaluation and only 4% of respondents allocate at least 10%. Furthermore, 46% of respondents said they rely on gut feel to assess campaigns’ effectiveness – a rise of 13% over the past five years. Meanwhile, 30% of respondents said they use AVE, up from 9% in 1999
. The results of the survey are not exactly encouraging. That’s why the trend for understanding how to evaluate and why, and establishing a standard evaluation system is still on.

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