As a public relations professor who teaches a research and evaluation course, I know firsthand the challenge of keeping up with research, measurement, and evaluation developments in public relations. New and improved digital metrics keep emerging. Clients and organizations are demanding greater accountability from communication initiatives. Public relations professionals and clients are advocating for the adoption of standardization in measurement and evaluation. Research approaches must be cost-effective, aligned with organizational goals and strategy, and actionable. Frankly, I consider the research and evaluation course to be one of the most rigorous and important courses in the public relations curriculum.
To ensure that my students are learning the most contemporary approaches, I frequently reference and use the white papers available on the website of the Commission on PR Measurement and Evaluation. Sometimes, I reference and link to a white paper when I am lecturing or explaining a concept. Occasionally, I require my students to read a paper and summarize or critique its research approach. Many of my PR colleagues at other universities have told me they also use the Commission white papers in their research and campaigns courses.
Based upon feedback from some educators who teach PR research and evaluation, I’ve written a white paper that recommends and describes how many of the Commission white papers can be used in the classroom. I’ve organized my paper by research topics, such as social media and experimental design, so that readers can quickly find resources on topics important to them. I’ve also included a synopsis of recent books on PR research, measurement, and evaluation.
I hope you find this paper helpful as you plan and teach research, measurement, and design. Please let me know if you think other papers should be added to the list. I also welcome your feedback for ways the Commission can assist you in the classroom.
Dr. Julie O’Neil, a professor of strategic communication, teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in public relations, integrated marketing, and research methods at Texas Christian University.