Friday, 19 November 2010

Walking The Walk On Evaluation

As an industry, we have wrestled with evaluation for far too long. Decades in fact. And most of that wrestling has -until now- been pretty much pointless.

I hope that this week's PRCA-supported evaluation summit, hosted by AMEC and our opposite, cross-Atlantic number the PRSA, will prove a turning point.

Bringing together the leading professional bodies to agree a common evaluation framework is the absolute prerequisite for driving forward our common agenda. We have fully endorsed the AMEC-PRSA proposals and I'm glad that the CIPR has too.

Our Chairman, H&K's Sally Costerton, and the Chairman of our Best Practice Committee, Huntsworth's Alison Clarke spoke for us at the summit. They set out not only our support for the framework, but also our practical efforts to embed it within our processes, and by doing so, to drive evaluation excellence through our membership.

We have set out two highly practical and I believe significant initiatives, that will ensure we don't just talk the talk on evaluation, but we also walk the walk.

The first is that we we will create a specialist evaluation module as part of our Consultancy Management Standard (CMS). This will allow consultancies and in house departments to demonstrate their commitment to robust and relevant evaluation techniques. Passing this specialist, independently-audited module will result in the award of an evaluation kitemark -public evidence of evaluation excellence. Bear in mind too that CMS has now been adopted by over a dozen countries. So our evaluation ambition and reach goes far beyond just the UK.

The second is that from 2011 onwards, we will include a mandatory evaluation element in our awards programme. This year, the PRCA awards became second in size only to PR Week, so this again is a major practical commitment. And I would urge other awards programmes to follow our lead. Credible PR awards require the credible evaluation of PR work.

A note of caution and realism though. It takes more than one afternoon's summit to crack such a deep, ingrained issue. Good intentions and fine rhetoric will take us only so far -that's why we need practical commitments. We delude ourselves if we think that the path ahead will be simple. but at least now we're walking the walk on it eh?

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