Monitoring & Evaluation
Evaluation is an ongoing, systematic process. It should be included in all communication planning to evaluate activities, plans and strategies. ... Evaluation is a management process that can be done informally or formally to help determine movement forward.
Why to evaluate communication activities?
It is important to evaluate the success of PR activities, in order to learn which activities worked well and which should be improved in future. Evaluation also creates useful feedback to share with others in the project, so that they can learn from your experience. State in your communications plan the criteria by which you will measure its success.
It is always important to measure the success if any public relations activities that are undertaken. Evaluation helps to determine whether communications are working. Are you reaching out to the right target audiences? Do they understand clearly what your project is trying to do? If not, you need to find out why at an early stage in order to modify your campaign.
Important things to know about Communication Evaluation
1. Evaluation is an ongoing, systematic process. It should be included in all communication planning to evaluate activities, plans and strategies. It should not be an optional activity.
2. Evaluation is forward looking. It helps an organization learn how to improve future performance. It reduces uncertainties, improves effectiveness and enhances decision-making.
3. Evaluation is not the same as research. Research is a strategic tool that feeds into planning, implementation and evaluation. Evaluation is a management process that can be done informally or formally to help determine movement forward.
4. Evaluation should support strategic alignment. The strategy involves various levels of planning and implementation. Planning is rolled down and evaluation rolls up on the same strategic line.
5. Evaluation should be planned for at the beginning of the communication effort with the development of measurable objectives.
Regularly following press coverage about your organisation, your industry and your competitors is one of the most important tasks in PR. This information should be fed back to management on a daily or weekly basis, depending on the nature and communications environment of your organisation. Strong strategy and effective decision making depends on understanding current issues and what your stakeholders are saying and hearing about you.
The process of media monitoring and reporting is a useful task in itself for the PR department because it helps staff to understand the media environment and gain hands-on knowledge of what makes news in your target media.
Media montoring can be done manually or with automated tools.
A more in-depth look at press coverage will enable you to look at longer-term developments in opinion about your organisation, industry and your competitors. A media analysis should be a detailed look at the press coverage you have received, in an accessible format incorporating charts or graphs that make the information easy to assimilate and understand.
Typical areas for attention will include:
• Volume (number of articles) of press coverage about your organisation
• Tone of press coverage: is coverage positive, negative or neutral?
• Prominence of press coverage: small mention in an article, small article specifically about your organisation, large article, etc.
• Presence of desired messages in press coverage (see message analysis below)
Benchmarking behaviour change
If one of your goals is to change people’s perceptions, attitudes or opinions it will be useful to determine whether your communications activities have actually succeeded in changing behaviour. The typical approach that most organisations use to achieve this is through a benchmarking survey.
In this process target audiences are surveyed at the outset of a communications programme, again halfway through the campaign, and again finally at the end. The results will enable an organisation to track the impact of its activities systematically and if necessary make ongoing adjustments.
Basic web evaluation involves measuring site visits alongside the timing of public relations activities. You can check the length of time visitors spend on a site, their geographical origin, the pages on which they arrive, the path they take through your site, which pages they spend most time on, and perhaps most importantly, how they were referred to your site. The gained information will help you to communicate more productivly via your website.