Guestpost by Richard Houghton FPRCA, President of ICCO, and Ex-Chairman of the PRCA
It’s more than 11 years since I was the PRCA representative on the first PR Planning and Evaluation Toolkit, a joint publication with the CIPR. An online version PREFix followed and there are now more books, guides and websites on how to evaluate campaigns than you can count.
Despite the level and quality of information available I think it fair to say that evaluation of PR campaigns is by no means ubiquitous and that in many case advertising value equivalents (AVEs) are the sole measure used, despite their obvious failings.
Last week in Barcelona at the 2nd European Summit on Measurement 150 measurement and PR professionals may have taken the first steps to making PR evaluation a core part of all campaigns.
The main participants in the Summit Principles debate - the Global Alliance for Public Relations, the IPR's Commission on Measurement and Evaluation, the PRSA, the ICCO and the US Research Agency Leaders Chapter of AMEC – helped to create the seven key principles of evaluation that were endorsed at the conference These were that:.
1. Goal setting and measurement are important
2. Media measurement requires quantity and quality
3. AVEs are not the Value of Public Relations
- Do not measure the value of PR or future activity
- Where comparisons are made validated metrics should be used
- Multipliers should never be applied unless proven to exist
4. Social media can and should be measured
5. Measuring outcomes is preferred to measuring media results (outputs)
6. Organisational results and outcomes should be measured whenever possible
7. Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement
What does this mean to PRCA members?
We’ve gone on record endorsing the principles as an important starting point for achieving two things. Firstly, we want to drive acceptance that evaluation of PR campaigns is crucial for the planning of future campaigns and demonstrating value.
Secondly, we are looking for wide understanding and acceptance that not all measurement methods are equal and that there are some basic requirements that need to be met for the evaluation process to be successful.
The PRCA’s Best Practice Committee, chaired by Alison Clark of Huntsworth has evaluation as one of its top priorities and we will continue to develop the PRCA’s services in this area including training, tools and best practice.
On the vexed question of AVEs, my view is that if clients want them, then most consultancies will provide them. But at the same time the failings of the method should be highlighted and every effort should be made to provide alternative and comparable evaluation methods that are relevant to other ROI measures used by the client.