The good news is that ninety per cent of PR activity is now evaluated.
The question is, how good is that evaluation?
Curiously PR people are spending no more on evaluation than they were
four years ago, according to the second survey of IPR members by Tom
Watson of Hallmark. Almost everyone thinks evaluation is important, but
most of it is self-assessment carried out by the people who conducted
the public relations in the first place. Only 7.2 per cent use external
media analysis or market research.
This is a mixed result. The level of media analysis provided by
professional evaluators is difficult to match by yourself. But where in-
house evaluation is important is in measuring results directly against
Encouragingly, the survey reveals that evaluation is no longer primarily
used for self-justification. It is now considered more useful for
planning future activity and measuring effectiveness against results.
Partly for this reason perhaps, AVEs are now widely discredited as a
measure of PR effectiveness, according to the survey. About time too.
Trying to impose direct financial equivalents from another discipline
can only be misleading. And it proves nothing about effectiveness in
reaching the target audience.
Overall, therefore, the news is encouraging. But there is a long way to
go yet. Watson has been kind enough to highlight PR Week’s own role in
encouraging debate on this issue. We shall continue to bang the drum
about evaluation until the cows come home, or until the fat lady sings,
whichever takes longer.
Evaluation remains one of the single biggest challenges to face PR in
the next few years. And the 3.2 per cent who told Watson that evaluation
is ‘irrelevant’ are living in cloud cuckoo land.