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How to evaluate Public Relations

How to evaluate Public Relations

By Paul Milller from Porter Novelli Europe Ltd

1. We have to do more than just evaluate media coverage, because media coverage, while frequently a key driver of effectiveness, does not itself define effectiveness.

2. Recognise that much media coverage evaluation assesses the efficiency of PR activity; measuring audience reach, OTS and AVEs, etc., tells us how well we have deployed a given budget. They do not tell us about the effect on target audiences.

3. Effectiveness means a result or outcome that impacts an organisation’s business objective(s). Therefore it is essential to identify the business objective that PR is required to support, and from there to anticipate the type and level of audience response which, if achieved, will be evidence of real effectiveness.

4. PR is diverse in its techniques and target audiences. As a result PR is required to address a wide spectrum of business objectives (though not necessarily at the same time!). Sales effectiveness is often the ultimate goal of many marketing PR programmes, but for other areas of PR the contribution to share price, costs and corporate reputation is the business rationale for investing in PR.

5. Establish the expected ‘influencing pathway’. PR works by influencing audiences, often in multiple combinations, in order to achieve desired responses (such as interest to buy, investment advice or regulatory/legislative orientation, etc.).

6. One important dimension is evaluating the cost of ‘getting things wrong’. This is particularly relevant in the area of crisis and issues management.

7. Where PR is one component in the marketing activity mix, think about PR’s special role and how this can be reflected in the way messaging and audiences can be differentiated from other media. In this way audience responses can be more readily attributed to the effect of PR.


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