As a student in public relations, the one idea that gets repeated again and again in class is the acronym R.A.C.E. This stands for Research, Action, Communication, and Evaluation (Wilcox, Cameron, Reber, & Shin, 2013, p. 7.) This acronym represents what steps are taken in the public relations process. Essentially, the problem is researched using primary and secondary research. Then, the action takes place. This is creating a strategy based on the research found. Next is the communication of the strategy to publics. This is the execution and how tactics will be carried out. Lastly, evaluation is done to see if goals were met. Did we do what we wanted to do? Was the target audience reached? Did we carry the plan out effectively? These are just a few questions that can be answered through evaluation.
Evaluation is a key step in finding out if goals were met. And if they weren’t met, then finding out what can be done so that the goals are met. Ultimately, evaluation is, “obtaining feedback to enhance programme management,” (Watson, Noble, & Ebooks Corporation, 2014, p. 18). Evaluation enhances how the organization will react in the future and if they will continue to carry out similar strategies and tactics.
Because evaluation is critical in analyzing if an organization’s goals were met, here are four tips that PR professionals can use when analyzing their objectives.
- Make sure the objectives are clearly defined. This should be done before any implementation is done. In order to analyze if objectives or goals of a client were met, the objectives need to be clearly stated. If a PR professional doesn’t know what the goals are, how can they evaluate if they were met? The objectives should be clearly stated before any action or evaluation are done.
- Use surveys. Surveys are a great way to get feedback on whether the campaign was successful or not. Chron gives this advice to small businesses, “Use survey results to measure important program messages. For example, if ‘Acme Company is the #1 builder of environmental homes’ is a key message, design a survey that measures the recall of this message,” (Johnson, 2017, para. 2). Surveys are simple and can gather many results to help PR professionals find out if their client’s goals were met.
- Define the variables needed to be measured. This is similar to number one, but in order to evaluate, variables need to be defined. As a PR professional, it should be known what needs to be measured to find out if goals were met.
- List steps that can be taken if the client’s goals were not met. Not all public relations campaigns work. That’s reality. So, if an organization’s goals weren’t met, PR professionals can recommend other ways that they could possibly meet their goals. After all, public relations is used to bring about a result, so clients want to see their goals met in some way, shape, or form.
Altogether, evaluation should help public relations professionals find out if the target audience was reached and if their campaign had an effect or not. Evaluation may seem like a small step in the PR process, but it has a mighty impact.
Johnson, K. S. (2017). Evaluation Techniques Used in PR. Chron. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/evaluation-techniques-used-pr-61478.html
Watson, T., Noble, P., & Ebooks Corporation. (2014). Evaluating public relations: A guide to planning, research and measurement (3rd;3;3rd; ed.). London;Philadelphia;: Kogan Page Limited. Retrieved from http://www.gvsu.eblib.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=1694817
Wilcox, D. L., Cameron, G. T., Reber, B. H., & Shin, J. (2013). Think Public Relations. New Jersey: Pearson.