As I was planning my summer reading, I decided to read through the classic white papers issued by the Institute for Public Relations Commission on Measurement and Evaluation. Yes, it is true, just ask my wife. The Commission was created to advocate for PR research, promote best practices and standards, and educate PR researchers and practitioners. The creation and distribution of white papers was a tactic to meet this goal.
I was pleased, though in retrospect not surprised, to see that our corpus of white papers constitutes a reading list or core curriculum in PR research, measurement, and evaluation. Indeed, several academic friends tell me that they heavily leverage IPR white papers in courses on public relations research.
So what did I find? For all the recent discussion about advertising value equivalency (AVEs), the IPR Commission published a white paper discouraging the use of AVEs almost a decade ago. We have papers on setting measurable objectives, on research for communications planning, on measurement techniques, on social media measurement, and on measuring ROI, as well as other topics.
These white papers fall somewhere between papers in academic journals, chapters in textbooks, and articles in trade media. They are intended for the practitioner.
And best of all, this material is available at no cost.
If you, as a PR practitioner or researcher, see a specific topic that needs addressing, please let us know by commenting on this post.
David Geddes, Ph.D.
Chair, Institute for Public Relations Commission on Measurement and Evaluation
All of us who work in PR research, measurement, and evaluation need to talk in the same professional language. The Dictionary of Public Relations Measurement and Research, prepared, edited, and periodically updated by Prof. Don W. Stacks of the University of Miami should be a resource on everyone’s desktop.
Research for planning and evaluation
Walter Lindenmann describes, in Public Relations Research for Planning and Evaluation, the tools and techniques that public relations practitioners ought to consider when designing and carrying out research projects for public relations planning and for public relations measurement and evaluation purposes
In Using Public Relations Research to Drive Business Results Katharine Delahaye Paine, Pauline Draper and Angela Jeffrey examine how a variety of organizations have used PR measurement systems to demonstrate the business outcomes of their efforts.
A key step in PR planning is identifying and prioritizing key stakeholder audiences. Prof. Brad Rawlins outlines a four-step process to accomplish this important task in Prioritizing Stakeholders for Public Relations, and also provides insights on stakeholder management.
Setting measurable objectives
PR measurement and evaluation will never be successful without a clear set of measurable objectives.by Forrest W. Anderson, Linda Hadley, David Rockland and Mark Weiner updates a 1999 classic, one that should always be at hand when PR practitioners and researchers start the account planning process. Remember that the best measurement is built in at the start of a program, not bolted on at the end.
Guidelines and Standards for Measuring the Effectiveness of PR Programs and Activities by Walter K. Lindenmann sets minimum standards when it comes to measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of specific short-term PR programs, strategies, activities and tactics against pre-determined outputs, outtakes and outcomes.
Many would argue that our role as PR practitioners is to manage the conversations between an organization and its stakeholders. Professors Linda Hon and James Grunig provide the tools to measure relationships in Guidelines for Measuring Relationships in Public Relations.
Measuring social media
Measurement in social media seems to change monthly. In How to Measure Social Media Relations: The More Things Change, the More They Remain the Same and How to Set Benchmarks in Social Media: Exploratory Research for Social Media, Lessons Learned Katie Paine outlines the structure of a social media measurement programs. Stay tuned … this area of measurement and evaluation changes monthly.
Seth Duncan gives a practical lesson in how use web analytics for measuring business outcomes in Using Web Analytics to Measure the Impact of Earned Online Media on Business Outcomes: A Methodological Approach.
Investor relations research
Research to support and measure investor relations is a specialized but important aspect of measurement and evaluation. In What You Need To Know To Measure Investor Relations, David Michaelson and John Gilfeather introduce the basic concepts of investor relations and the measurement of that function. This paper focuses on defining the players who comprise the investor relations constituency, exploring the communications channels, and discussing ways to evaluate progress
How do you use research during and after a crisis? Sean Williams describes, in
Measuring “Company A”: A Case Study and Critique of a News Media Content Analysis Program (July 2009), how a company transformed a standard media measurement program into a strategic tool during a crisis and takeover.
Advertising and PR
Advertising Value Equivalency by Bruce Jeffries-Fox. This paper provides some answers when an uninformed boss or client asks for an AVE study, and also provides some other ways to think about showing the value of what media relations professionals do.Summit on Measurement in 2009. But the Institute for Public Relations Commission on and Evaluation already published a thoughtful critique in 2003:
Multipliers are often used by public relations professionals to factor circulation or audience figures when calculating impressions. In Dispelling the Myth of PR Multipliers and Other Inflationary Audience Measures, Mark Weiner and Don Bartholomew argue that the facts do not support the use of multipliers, and their use may actually hurt the credibility of the profession.
Empirical research in PR can sometimes burst long-established assumptions. In Exploring the Comparative Communications Effectiveness of Advertising and Media Placement, David Michaelson and Don W. Stacks find, based on field research, that public relations placements and advertising were equally effective in generating consumer interest in a newly launched product.
Return on investment
Return on investment is a hot topic as PR departments and agencies seek to document their contribution to organizational value.
Everyone likes to talk about return on investment, but what does it really mean, and how can we apply it in public relations? In Perspectives on the ROI of Media Relations Publicity Efforts, Fraser Likely, David Rockland, and Mark Weiner discuss several different approaches to deriving a Return-on-Investment (ROI) for the support provided by media relations publicity efforts within a marketing campaign. Measuring social media
Through four case studies in Exploring the Link between Share of Media Coverage and Business Outcomes the authors – Angela Jeffrey, David Michaelson, and Don W. Stacks – make the case for using competitive media analysis to see stronger correlations to business results.
Isolating the Effects of Media-Based Public Relations on Sales: Optimization through Marketing Mix Modeling by Mark Weiner, Liney Arnorsdottir, Rainer Lang, and Brian Smith defines marketing mix modeling, shares approaches for incorporating public relations results into the model – primarily through media content analysis – and provides a recent case study. The featured case study confirms what PR professionals believe to be true: PR is a most powerful marketing agent. What is more, public relations consistently surpasses the return-on-investment and relative selling power of other MARCOM activities within the marketing mix, including those that command much larger budgets.