PR evaluation: it's all about relationships

Thomas Watson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Purpose - To explain why it is vital for public relations (PR) to be evaluated in terms of relationships between organizations and key stakeholders. Design/methodology/approach - Traces the development of PR measurement and of best practice. Findings - The ultimate goal of PR is to build and enhance relationships between organizations and their key stakeholders. Identifies two types of relationships - exchange and communal - with four outcomes - control mutuality, trust, commitment and satisfaction and proposes that relationships are evaluated quantitatively through a questionnaire and via qualitative methods such as focus groups and interviews. Comments on the debate over the use of financial/management language, contrasting the recommendation in a Department of Trade and Industry/Institute of Public Relations (IPR) report to use return on investment (ROI) with a later IPR report arguing against a broad use of ROI and in favour of an evidence-based PR, with the caveat that the term PR ROI should only be used when a ratio of profit or cost saving can be directly attributed to specific PR activities. Also recommends more sophisticated PR measurement, warns against an over-simplified view which leads to certain measures continuing to be used despite being discredited and asserts that PR should only be compared with advertising using directly comparable measures such as reach and frequency, cost per thousand or changes in awareness and attitude measured through credible market research. Originality/value - States that marketers are no longer searching for a single, industry-wide, all-purpose method of measurement and that PR practice can develop its integrated approach to planning, research and evaluation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)44-46
    Number of pages3
    Issue number465
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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