Evaluation and Measurement

Generally Accepted Practices Report

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The seventh GAP (Generally Accepted Practices) study is out. It looks at topics pertinent to successful management of public relations within an organization (both private and public). The survey  includes feedback on key topics such as budgets, responsibilities, use of social media, measurement and evaluation and more. The purpose of the study is to help practitioners better manage PR/Comm in their organization, point out trends which are important for their work and  identify Best Practices against which they can benchmark their own organizations. It is relevant for people working within organizations but also for consultants.

PR/communications spending on evaluation

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PR/communications spendingThe USC Annenberg’s Generally Accepted Practices (GAP) for Public Relations study found that compared to 2009, total spending on evaluation in PR/communication budgets jumped from 4% to 9% in 2012 – even when some 80% of practitioners reported overall PR/communication budgets flat or decreasing.

An interesting report on PR/communications spending, which was posted by my colleague Glenn O’Neil on his blog about Evaluation & Measurement:

View the full report here (pdf)>>

The evolution of evaluation by Professor Tom Watson

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This summer, at the annual International History of Public Relations Conference at Bournemouth University, UK, Professor Tom Watson delivered an interesting presentation on the evolution of evaluaiton in PR- Public Relations eratic path to the measurement of effectiveness. As an expert on the history of PR himself, with over 20 years of experience in the field, Professor Watson outlined the role of evaluation and measurement in pr and how it has evolved in the past 200 years.

Some points that are raised in the presentation include the evolution of PR measurement and evaluation as an eradic progress. Development evaluation as a surrogate history of PR. He looks at it in the form of a timeline narrative, starting in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and ending with todays current PR practices.

Have a look at the speech below:

3rd annual AMEC Summit feedback

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At the 3rd annual AMEC Summit in Lisbon some interesting thoughts were shared about measurement and evaluation in PR, particularly linked to social media. From establishing definitions for concepts such as engagement and influence to discussions about AVE’s the conference provided a wide spectrum of input from professionals in PR and beyond. A good summary has been provided by Professor Tom Watson of Bournmouth University. He also presented an interesting workshop on the fundamentals of measurement and evaluation. Read more on his Dummyspit blog in the post on social media metrics.

Another good summary can be found on the PR Media blog.

The presentations can be viewed here.

Foursquare social media strategies

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Increasingly, companies are using Foursquare to reach their audiences. Numerous promotions have been successful in attracting new customers and converting existing ones to new ambassadors for your brand, which is the basis of social media. It is increasingly important to interact with the customer and their audience. They are no longer passive bystanders as we know, both for communication and marketing. Today, almost everyone has some sort of smartphone, hence the rise of applications such as Foursquare, which allow you to check in anywhere, find points of interest around your checkin as well as current and potential or future contacts. This provides an excellent opportunity for people to become familiar with a product or to create resonance around it and attract attention, which is usually the objective on an advertising campaign.

The most common approach is to provide a discount to users who check in at one of the store’s branches. Many companies including Gap and Starbucks are renowned for this approach. Jimmy Choo, however, took it a step further by organising a type of treasure hunt in the city of London. Through their Twitter account @Catchachoo they posted specific locations around the city and the first person to check in at one of those locations via Foursquare would receive a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes of their choice for free.

McDonalds is another example of an original campaign. The aim was to increase foot traffic to their stores by 33% in one day by using Foursquare. 100 randomly awarded $5 and $10 giftcards were used as checkin bait to attract potential customers. The bait also worked to attract attention from the media and resulted in more than 50 articles talking about their so called Foursquare special. The problem with this campaign was the measurement. The blog thebrandbuilder.wordpress.com provides an excellent summary of this.





A structured communication plan is the foundation of a sustainable social media strategy

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Recently I received several calls from organisations seeking advice about how to establish a presence on Facebook and other social media platforms. Most importantly they wanted to hear about the advantages of social media adoption. My first question to them is always: what is your communication objective? This is usually followed by a moment of silence. In fact, most of them do not have a communications strategy.  Yet jumping into social media without a proper communications strategy seems like building a house without a proper foundation.

Social media may produce immediate results but it also presents an opportunity for a long term communication management. You build relationships, gain knowledge, and participate in and shape conversations. But how do you combine the immediacy of posts, status updates, rss, etc. with longterm objectives and goals linked to a communications strategy? To answer that we should review the elements of a communications strategy. These include a proper stakeholder analyses, goals, objectives, and a proper method for evaluating results.

A stakeholder analysis is essential for any organisation. There are numerous methods that can be used which focus on the identification of stakeholders. The challenge is to decide which stakeholders should receive specific attention. One excellent model that can be used was developed by Brad L. Rawlins which prioritizes stakeholders through a four-step process: 1. Identifying all potential stakeholders according to their relationship to the organization; 2. Prioritizing stakeholders by attributes; 3. Prioritizing stakeholders by relationship to the situation; 4. Prioritizing the publics according to the communication strategy. This model helps an organisation decide how much attention each stakeholder group deserves or requires. If you know your publics you can select which platforms are most suited for your specific objectives more effectively. You might set shorter communications initiatives with some stakeholders while others would require a longterm investment. Social media could be used for both.

In communication we distinguish between goals and objectives, in that a goal is a statement rooted in the organization’s mission or vision and an objective is a statement emerging from the organization’s goals. For example, if your goal is to raise awareness about a certain issue or product, your objective might indicate how much awareness and it would specify a time frame. Once an organisation has set specific objectives and decided on which stakeholders to target, specific channels can be identified. These channels may include a more traditional approach such as print journalism or advertising or they may include social media. One advantage social media offers is that you are able to listen to your stakeholders. Effective communicators implement a two-way approach which requires longterm investment. Just posting a message blindly to reach a maximum number of people will not be effective in the long run.

The final step is then to decide on how to measure your results. Here again the most effective approach is a combined measurement, both on and offline. Some interesting references for measurement are Intelligent Measurement and the Metricsman. They talk extensively about the importance of evaluation and measurement but also about the combined approach implementing both online and offline techniques.

One reference which I think describes this point is from the film Field of Dreams, where Kevin Costner’s character hears a voice which tells him to build a baseball stadium. He hears repeatedly “if you build it, they will come” referring to the spectators. And at the end of the film you see thousands of cars approaching the farmland on which he had built the field. But was he ready for all those people? We don’t know because the film ends. In social media it is comparable, you can build your profiles, start posting, commenting, linking and you might generate a great deal of traffic very quickly. But if you do not feed that traffic with quality material they will disappear and it will be counter productive in the long run. Therefore, think and plan ahead. Establish a proper communications strategy before building.

The Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles

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After a brief break to collect my thoughts, I am back with a focus on evaluation and measurement. At a conference on measurement held in Barcelona in June, an important development was recorded: the creation of the ‘Barcelona Declaration of Research Principles’. The Summit was organized by the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) and the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) and over 200 delegates from around 33 countries voted on what is to be considered new standards in communication measurement. Participants at the conference included important PR and measurement organizations such as AMEC, IPR, The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), The International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO), and The Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management (GA).

The finalized version of these principles has now been published. The seven Barcelona Declaration of Research Principles are:

1. Importance of Goal Setting and Measurement
2. Measuring the Effect on Outcomes is Preferred to Measuring Output
3. The Effect on Business Results Can and Should Be Measured Where Possible
4. Media Measurement Requires Quantity and Quality
5. AVEs are not the Value of Public Relations
6. Social Media Can and Should be Measured
7. Transparency and Replicability are Paramount to Sound Measurement

The full description (pdf) of each of these principles and the thought process behind them can be seen on the  AMEC website.