“Most public relations men, faced with the difficulty and cost of evaluation, forget it and get on with the next job”
J Marston: Nature of Public Relations, 1963
Nearly sixty years on from the above quote, evaluation remains one of the thorniest topics in the world of public relations.
The widely derided AVE (Advertising Value Equivalent) remains a tool despite fundamental flaws – going further back in history than our opening quote. It was first criticised by the Institute of Public Relations in 1949. AVE’s failings are well documented: conflating advertising with public relations, removal of context, simplistic metrics – and yet it clings on perhaps because of a lack of will in the industry.
At the present time, due to the trying circumstances, it’s no surprise that companies are looking for more ROI than ever before. Campaigns need to hit home, change minds and behaviour, raise awareness and drive sales.
And PR teams are under ever increasing pressure to tangibly measure the success of their work and therefore provide clients with proof that they are worth it
In a modern world, where social media dominates and conversations can have a depth of meaning that goes much deeper than previously, reach data – whether on traditional or more modern platforms – is clearly not adequate.
But that doesn’t mean, faced with the difficulty and cost, we should just move on. We in the industry know there are tools that exist for more thorough measurement of PR campaigns.
Some tend towards modern algorithms for effect and they are a step in the right direction, if yet unproven, but there may well be ethical problems with the construction of the data management.
However one solid, cost-effective way of evaluation is to go direct to the source – consumer research.
A smart evaluation tool based on consumer research can be folded into any PR, social or marketing campaign to measure the success of the programme in terms of brand awareness, and consumer sentiment and behaviour.
Our bespoke Perspectus Global evaluation tool is a straightforward yet robust way to measure the success of any campaign.
Survey questions are designed to reflect campaign objectives and activity, with polls running before, during and after the campaign.
Results are broken down by gender, age and location, to aid with planning and deployment of forthcoming marketing, sales and PR activity.
If evaluation is worthwhile, and we strongly believe that it is, more than ever, it should be done consistently, both before and after the campaign has run.
Move on from the Mad Men era and bring your evaluation tools with you.