Get Schooled in Evaluation and Measurement This Month

Back-to-school this September for many public relations/strategic communication professionals means back to … evaluation and measurement school.

And there’s a new curricula!

In June, the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) unveiled the Integrated Evaluation Framework (IEF) .

A working group - comprised of senior public relations agency consultants and research providers, with support from the AMEC Academic Advisory Group led by  Dr. Jim Macnamara . The IEF model combines communication planning/objective setting and evaluation/measurement processes into a seven-stage process. Now, a communication researcher/planner/evaluator can research, plan, execute and evaluate a communication campaign from beginning to end. The seven-stage model is supported by an interactive application. You put in the details and the plan is developed for you by the application . You can evaluate your campaign at the outputs (what you produced and distributed), outtakes (what messages the targeted stakeholder received and attended to), outcomes (what effect the communication had with the stakeholder and what change the stakeholder made) and impact (what was the result of stakeholder change on your organization) levels. Both PR academics and leading professionals agree, that for a major campaign, evaluating stakeholder behaviour change and its effect on your organization (levels three and four) are required.

If you need to learn more about each stage in the process, as well as understand the theoretical concepts that underlie each stage, then there’s a detailed taxonomy available. The taxonomy can be compared to a thorough summary of a graduate level PR measurement course, since it provides “best practice and best knowledge” together in one place.  

AMEC is celebrating Measurement Month this September, with events, webinars and podcasts, related to the introduction of the IEF. For example, one event on September 14th involves speakers talking about digital strategy and measurement from the UK, US and Canadian government perspectives. Canada’s representative is Laura Wesley , the Executive Director, Consultations and Public Engagement in the Privy Council Office, Communications and Consultation Secretariat located in Ottawa. Her role “entails tracking, coordinating and communicating the governments’ efforts to involve citizens and stakeholders in government activities and decisions.”

Click here to register.
Most communication departments don’t develop and implement more than two or three comprehensive communication campaigns in a given fiscal year. Thus, it’s imperative to utilize the best practice IEF to ensure sound planning and proper evaluation takes place. The importance of measuring campaigns should not be understated. While many communication departments regularly monitor their messages and conversations in paid, earned, shared and owned (PESO) media channels, for example for reach, tonality, share of voice and engagement, these are but output and outtake measures. Most of these content activities are one-offs and have limited effect in changing stakeholder behaviour - and from there impacting the organization’s relational, reputational, social responsibility and finally financial wellbeing.

Taken together with your traditional, digital and social media activity and channel monitoring, the IEF process is a sound methodology to demonstrate communication effectiveness from your campaigns. Communication activity, channel and campaign evaluation is a good part of an overall measurement system, but not the only parts. We need to be measuring the effectiveness of our stakeholder relationship programs (for example, our overall employee communication program), organizational reputation and the quality of and satisfaction with our communication department (particularly the soft, expert-based services, especially our strategic counsel and advice, that we deliver).

Lots to learn about evaluation and measurement this month!
Fraser Likely is a communication management consultant, specializing in communication department structural, organizational and performance improvements. He is a CPRS Fellow, AMEC Fellow and Institute for Public Relations Measurement Commission Emeritus Member. He currently manages the international Task Force on the Standardization of PR Evaluation Models.