ECCO network to develop evaluation tool

Global PR agency network ECCO plans to spearhead an initiative to establish its first common methodology for evaluating international PR programmes.

Sara Render, chief executive of Kinross & Render – the ECCO network’s UK partner agency – claims this is the first initiative of its kind by a global network and, if successful, ‘could result in an industry-wide standard for international PR operations’.

Speaking at a three-day ECCO seminar in London last week, Render said ECCO aims to address the main barriers to take up, which she cited as ‘cost and company misconceptions that evaluation is primarily about agencies and in-house teams justifying their existence’.

At the seminar, Render unveiled research by ECCO across 19 countries and 21 of its member agencies, which suggests that, regardless of geography, evaluation of PR is ‘agency driven, seriously underfunded and with insufficient emphasis on impacts’.

Only one third of the agencies polled received any evaluation budget from 50 per cent or more of their clients.

Render described most evaluation methods used as ‘fairly unsophisticated’, with the only consistent and internationally common measures being the quality and content of media coverage.

Earlier this year, the IPR and PRCA’s joint initiative for evaluation – PRE-fix – was abandoned following IPR’s withdrawal from the scheme (PRWeek, 17 January).

Render and other delegates indicated the evaluation standard was likely to draw from PRE-fix and other evaluation methods, such as advertising-value equivalents (AVEs).

Render said ECCO was keen to work with other agencies and in-house professionals who handle international projects, as ‘this is a problem for the entire PR industry’.

Christian Kollmann, chief executive of Communications Matters, ECCO’s Austrian arm, is expected to head a steering group on the issue.

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