No Culture of Budgeting for Evaluation in PR Campaigns
Updated: Jul 24, 2018
It has been rightly argued that there is often no budget for evaluation in PR or comms. This is possibly owing to the fact that, for a long time, there was no culture of evaluation in this industry. Because the industry seemed to doubt the importance of the process, the educational institutions and industry leaders may not have seen this as an area to be addressed, hence little or no practical training in insights and analytics.
The fact of the matter is little value can be ascertained from the number of mentions of a company on social media. The nature of the statement is far more important in addition to other conditions inclusive of: who is saying what, the age groups that are making comments, it is important to know if they are the target audience or not; it is important to know if the target audience has access to the traditional or social media and how much they use it.
All these attendant conditions come together to give communicators insight on how to proceed. Communication plans must be bolstered by information related to favourability in relation to online media content, internet penetration, level of digitization in an economy, number of homes and or individuals paying for high speed internet, adult and teen users etc. All this information must converge to give the most efficient mix of ways to communicate with a target audience.
But the fact still remains that there are some things that cannot be measured. Public relations is about acquiring trust and confidence. Stephen Waddington defined it as ‘a management discipline that relates to planned and sustained engagement designed to influence behaviour change, build mutual understanding and trust’. However, according to Putnam, trust, which is central to social capital, is not something that can be measured, he noted that he was not aware of any behavioral measure for social trust. He stated “since trust is so central to the theory of social capital, it would be desirable to have strong behavioral indicators of trends in social trust or misanthropy. I have discovered no such behavioural measures”. From a practical point, there is no way to tell whether output, such as a press release reaches its target audience. More often than not, the readers are not the target and it even more likely that the reader scans the article and never get the message, this person may still participate in a cause or purchase a product with no knowledge of this message.
While the corporate environment of communication has become a large and diverse place, so much so, that experts can hardly tell where public relations ends and marketing begins, it is now more important than ever to distinguish the profession in terms of its accountability and value on the account of results through measurement. Sound strategies that are grounded in data and insight in communication generally are indicators of effective management; profit or loss as a result indicates value or lack thereof. Ultimately, all professionals are called upon to show their worth by virtue of their work and communicators are held to the same standards.
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