EDITORIAL: PRE-fix faces a tough challenge

The plan launched this week by the IPR and PRCA's joint PRE-fix committee, to create a unified method to evaluate and measure the impact of campaigns, is broadly a good idea. In a sector with as many bespoke systems for sale as there are operators on the market, one of the key benefits will be to clarify in the minds of clients the function effective evaluation can perform. This will have an impact on their readiness to trust PR consultants and evaluation processes.

And yet faced with a plethora of newspapers, magazines, broadcasters and online outlets, the industry should be wary of a one size fits all approach. Oversimplifying the art of evaluation contains a double hazard. It raises expectations that cannot then be met and leads to decisions being made based on inadequate information.

The caveat to this otherwise welcome scheme, therefore, is that flexibility is crucial. PR is a broad church, and different types of evaluation will be needed to appraise success.

Measuring success is complex because coverage is a mixture of mentions, messages, issues, branding and tone. It may be impossible to come up with one standard reference point to accommodate such scope in any meaningful way.

The way forward must be to support attempts to standardise evaluation techniques into a portfolio of systems in which diverse clients can place trust. In tandem with that, a campaign will be needed to ensure both clients and consultants understand the need for effective evaluation.

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