Part three in a series on the state of the PR industry
The good news coming out of USC’s Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism seventh bi-annual Communication and Public Relations Generally Accepted Practices (GAP VII) study is the PR industry is alive and well, PR/Comm professionals have increased responsibilities and opportunities within their corporation and the C-Suite values PR/Communications more than ever.
With the new emphasis on PR/Comm, however, comes the need to measure and evaluate what’s working and what is not within the program. The study found that budget allocation for PR measurement and evaluation has more than doubled since the 2009 study.
It would be interesting to talk to the study participants and learn the “why” behind the increased focus on measurement and evaluation. Was it a case of C-Suite interest in further involving PR/Communications in decisions, so the department had to show ROI on current activities? Or did the PR/Comm department need buy-in from C-Suite, so they initiated the evaluation of activities to show track-able numbers? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
While the “why” might be interesting, of more practical concern to PR/Comm professionals is the “what” or “how.” What in, and how do, you measure your program?
There seems to be a division within the industry on whether to provide metrics on quantitative outputs (traditional data—clips, impressions, advertising equivalency) or qualitative outcomes.
For instance, as mentioned in the last blog post, I noted there is an increase in responsibility for internal communications with employees.
In output vs. outcome the question becomes would you rather measure how many employee newsletters you sent out (output) or measure employees saying they are being communicated with better than in the past (outcome)?
While one might be easier to measure, the other probably gives a more accurate picture of the effectiveness of the program.
I would suggest that while both are important, if the PR/Communications professional wants to continue to be taken seriously and remain a voice at the C-Suite table, the industry has to move more to providing guidance and direction on a higher strategic level than just merely a tactical level.
How do you measure and evaluate your PR/Comm program? Are you expected to focus more on outputs or outcomes? Would you like to be focusing on one more than the other?
For further reading:
PR industry alive and well—but changing (Part One)
GAP VII: Seventh Communication and Public Relations Generally Accepted Practices Study (USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism)
Communication-driven management consulting: Changing the stakes (Council of Public Relations Firms)
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