Public relations evaluation in Australia: practices and attitudes across sectors and employment status

Peter Denyer-Simmons, Thomas Watson

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

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In 2004 the authors presented their initial findings of a national survey of evaluation practices amongst Australian public relations practitioners who were mostly Public Relations Institute of Australia members. They found a media relations­centric focus. There was an increase in research and evaluation activity, compared with Walker's study in 1993, but the focus remained on outputs, not outcomes of communication. The analysis showed that measurement of public relations causes anguish for many practitioners. This investigation used a cluster analysis technique to examine differences between consultant, government, commercial and non­profit practitioners, the effect of budget size, and the influence of management responsibility on evaluation attitudes and practices. In particular, it compared responses to clusters of questions on evaluation of outcomes and outputs, belief in the measurability of evaluation, and perceptions of barriers to evaluation. It found that all sectors focus on the evaluation of outputs more than outcomes, although government was less likely to evaluate outcomes than the other workplace sectors. Senior managers/directors were more likely to measure outcomes than practitioners with lower level responsibility. Commercial practitioners reported higher levels of pressure from employers to demonstrate results. The data suggest a commonality of attitudes and practices on evaluation issues across budget size, employment categories and operational sectors that may signify a consolidated picture of Australian attitudes and practices. The attitudes expressed show that industry calls for improved evaluation have been heeded and accepted as important by public relations practitioners, but not generally acted on. Consequently it is argued that further industry attempts to improve evaluation should focus on the value of outcomes rather than outputs, and be supported by a program of support for improving understanding of public relationsevaluation among employers and clients.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPRIA 05
EditorsRobina Xavier
Place of PublicationBrisbane, Australia
PublisherQueensland University of Technology
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2005
EventPublic Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) National Forum - Brisbane, QLD Australia, Australia
Duration: 23 Oct 2005 → …


ConferencePublic Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) National Forum
Period23/10/05 → …


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