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July 14, 2004

Evaluating PR programmes

GLOBAL PR BLOG WEEK -- Before you launch a PR campaign, you should have a standard of measurement in your head. When the campaign has dwindled down, it's time to measure what acutally happened. This might occur three or four months following the last phone call or the final spike in Web traffic around a product.

The evaluation process is not new. An early publicity specialist, Evart Routzahn, told the 1920 National Conference on Social Work:

After all the returns are in—when the last meeting has been held, the final distribution of printed matter made, and all activities of the immediate effort have been recorded as history—is the time to put yourself and your methods through the third degree … with prayerful solicitude that you will be able to untangle the lessons to be applied to the next project.

Evaluation means different things to different practiioners. To traditional PR specialists, it may mean column inches or minutes of broadcast airtime. To the online world, the metric involves PageRank and cross-references in major search engines.

Each stage in program evaluation contributes to increased understanding and adds information for assessing effectiveness. These are important findings for future campaigns. They help focus a message, refine a target audience, and predict surges in response rates based on types of campaigns used to achieve a result.

Part of the Global PR Blog Week -- "Making PR Work: Creativity and Strategy"
Linda Childers -- What have you done for me lately: exploring effectiveness in public relations" in Jounral of Public Relations Research, 9:1
Walter Lindenmann -- "Setting Minimum Standards for Measuring Public Relations Effectiveness" in Public Relations Review, 22, no. 4.


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