PR is part of the management task and is subject to the same disciplines, such as the need to set direction, allocate and manage resources, and most importantly monitor progress. Evaluation has been seen as the measurement of results against objectives. It is also described as the systematic assessment of a PR campaign and its results; it also has been a means for practitioners to offer accountability of their work. However, for any public relations program to be properly evaluated, it’s important to have a clearly established set of measurable objectives at first hand, these should be part of the program plan.
Measurement and evaluation are problematic in all areas of management. Complexity is a key factor and in business, it is difficult to separate out the effect of one area of management such as public relations. P.R professionals don’t believe that the traditional evaluation methods are very meaningful, because it emphasizes quantity instead of quality. Therefore, new evaluation models to collect both qualitative as well as quantitative data, are needed to face the new digital age that will provide insights that can inform strategy. This allows for in-depth analysis, which can draw on contextual information, this forward-looking approach helps bridge the gap between PR and outcomes.
Emerging new models make advantage of Big Data to uncover insights that may be used to inform strategy. According to Macnamara, the communications business has a propensity to leap to conclusions regarding discoveries in the absence of sufficient data or research. According to him, new models should capture both qualitative and quantitative data. Allowing time to dwell on discoveries after a “cooling off” phase may be quite beneficial. This enables in-depth analysis, which may make use of contextual data, published research literature, databases, and case studies.
Most significantly, rather than just reporting on previous accomplishments, insights are forward-looking, implying the possibility of value creation. (For instance, in sales, reputation, expenses, risks, or staff loyalty.) This forward-thinking strategy aids in bridging the gap between PR and outcomes, which is commonly seen as a major impediment. It also tackles a disturbing paradox at the heart of the PR measurement conundrum: despite expectations for outcomes and accountability, employers frequently will not pay for, and in some cases do not want, thorough measurement and assessment.
How To Improve Measurement?
The Valid Metrics Framework is another developing concept that may be used as a guideline for better measurement (VMF). It is presented in the form of a matrix, with the underlying rationale that the model may be used to a variety of various sorts of public relations campaigns. It employs outputs, effects, and outcomes as a framework for defining what needs to be assessed and determining which instruments will be necessary to collect this information. The benefit of employing this structure is that it can be tailored to almost any form of campaign. “It may assist agencies and clients demonstrate how PR extends beyond determining ‘how many people are talking about you’ to determining ‘what behavior change are we driving, to our advantage,” Marion argues.
Following the call of the Barcelona Principles, the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications (AMEC) formed a task group to design the VMF. It was designed to provide an alternative to AVE. On a basic matrix grid, the framework distributes PR output in three discrete periods and divides the marketing campaign into five stages (see above).
It operates on the matrix in five steps. Choose the grid that is relevant to a specific campaign first; then choose the actions to be carried out throughout the campaign; pick the necessary metrics; examine and determine the suitable resources available; and lastly decide which of the results are meaningful.
The disadvantage of this methodology is that it is only a guideline for selecting potential metrics for specific PR efforts. It is not a hard and fast measurement guideline. AMEC said at the time of the framework’s introduction that the model was not intended to be a rulebook and urged PR companies to select KPIs that match their budget and objectives.