Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Evaluation

No, not an employee evaluation. Luckily now that I am a self employed public relations consultant, I no longer have to suffer through such tasks that can cause blood vessels to burst and overindulgences in office bagels. I am speaking of the evaluation of a public relations program. I think it makes all PR people shudder a bit, but the answer as to how to evaluate is ALWAYS a question that comes up and can be the deciding factor over getting business - regardless of how many nifty ideas you and the intern pulled together. Oh, I do love the tip lists...

1.) Address the evaluation of any program (PR, marketing, sales, etc. - it all fits) BEFORE it is brought up to you.
2.) Generate a discussion about the nature of evaluation and for results to be measurable. Public relations is a long term process, NOT a quick fix and it's important for folks you do work with to understand that.
3.) Of course there is the traditional "ad equivalency" which is attributing a dollar amount to the editorial space based on how much it would cost to have placed an advertisement of that size. However, as the media landscape is changing so drastically and so much of traditional advertising is becoming obsolete and community relations becoming more and more a part of PR, this is not necessarily the best way to "evaluate" a publicity program.
4.) There is also the sheer quantity of editorial through public relations efforts which is one of PR people's largest headaches. This is because we generally do not have the tools or man power to search through the vast amount of placements our efforts can garner. Sure, we know about a lot of the stories because we're working with writers on them, but the only way to get all of the "clips" is for a client to pay for a clipping service which is often times more costly and hassle than it's worth.
5.) So, what do you do??? Implement some evaluation programs at the beginning.
---Set up initial surveys or research and then conduct it again at the end to see what has changed, increased, ended, etc.
---Work with the IT folks to set up online tracking systems or advanced URLs - especially for the traffic PR can generate to a website.
---Determine very clear objectives with a client or business partner at the beginning so expectations are met at the end.
6.) Of course, making for a successful evaluation system may cost the client extra time and money that they do not want to spend which is why trust, honesty, integrity, and positive relationships is what public relations is all about. And in the end - long after a PR program has run its course - it will be deemed successful if those attributes are how the public feels about the company, organization, or individual who benefited from a public relations program.

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