The Evaluation tools, techniques have been extensively used by the Public Relations professionals all over the world to measure the results of their programs:
These Evaluation tools, techniques are:
- Benchmark study,
- Observation study
- Perception study,
- Attitude study,
- Survey techniques, and
- The media assessment studies.
When there is a target to accomplish in a program, and you carry out a study to know whether it has been achieved, that is called benchmark study. For instance, a company wants to reduce its production waste by 5 per cent. The researcher fixes a certain time-frame for the campaign, and then measures whether the target has been achieved. In the PR, this method is applied to campaigns relating to plant accidents, absentism, energy conservation, zero defects and other areas where physical targets could be given.
In observation study, you have to maintain an observation over a certain period to know if the campaign is having the desired impact on the target audience. Campaigns related to house-keeping, improvement in counter service, protection of environment with tree plantation, cleanliness in the community neighborhood, observation of “no smoking” signs and several other similar campaigns could be put to observation tests.
The perception study is conducted to know the perceived image of a company among the target public’s consumers, shareholders, media, government, and other public’s after a campaign is launched. Business World MARG opinion poll carries out a perception study of select large organizations among a sample of company executives in the four metro cities.
The executives were asked to rate the companies on a scale of 1 to 10, based on their own perceptions. The study was based on the following criteria:
- Corporate profitability,
- Financial performance,
- Good employer,
- Plant productivity, and
- Good corporate citizen.
Such a study is strongly recommended for all PR programs relating to the corporate image. A negative perception can be changed to positive perception with proper information.
Attitude study aims to find out the existing attitudes of public’s attitudes towards an organization, a product, an idea, a scheme, a person or a group. For example, before they launch their campaign, political parties conduct extensive attitude surveys. The IBM conducted an attitude study in the late 1960s in India and found that the Indian attitude towards the computer was totally negative. The Public’s fear was that the computer would render many people jobless. This information was then used in the IBM’s Public Relations campaign to counter this myth.
Before launching a campaign, India’s Cancer Society interviewed 600 people in the city of Mumbai from three different socio-economic groups. The research found the attitudes of:
- Lower income group as fatalistic.
- Middle income group as pessimistic and
- Upper Income group as hopeful.
On the basis of this information, the Society developed a communication strategy to educate the audience about the disease, to fight the fear of cancer and to cause a change in the attitude so as to encourage regular checkups.
In most of the surveys, a predetermined questionnaire is used. In case of sensitive issues, the questionnaire avoids a direct question and respondents are asked to select a response of their choice from a number of statement offering different viewpoints. If it is a homogeneous public like a group of the employees in a factory, a more informal method of interview, without a structured questionnaire, is used.
Newspapers and magazines often take the services of professional research groups to find out public opinion or attitude towards a government policy in connection with broadcasting, job reservation, privatization or any other matter of public importance. Other forms of survey techniques generally used to reveal the public attitudes towards certain issues or services or products, which could not be easily identified through direct questions, are group discussions and depth interviews.
The media assessment studies, both quantitative and qualitative, are important evaluation indicators. The PR programs making extensive use of the media relations to reach the target public through the news media find media assessment studies extremely revealing.
Normally the following strategies are employed in the media relations to get the media coverage: The PR department:
- Issues press releases for the media,
- Conducts press conferences at the headquarters or in plant locations,
- Issues backgrounders to the media,
- Provides video clips to the television channels, and
- Facilitates press interviews to reporters/correspondents.
The following will be checked in a media assessment study:
- Coverage (in terms of clippings) by the press from each press release,
- Coverage (in terms of clippings) by the press from the press conference,
- Coverage (mention) in the electronic media, mainly television channels, and
- Mention about the company/product/services in news articles and features.
In the form of a pie chart total column centimeter’s of all the media coverage could be tabulated.
The media assessment study analyses the total number of press clippings in terms of negative and positive coverage.
The following factors are considered in the qualitative aspect of the measurement:
- Front page coverage.
- Op-Ed page coverage.
- Covered as a box item.
- Company name/brand mentioned in the editorial.
- Company name/brand mentioned in headline.
- A negative headline with the company name/ brand.
- A cover story in leading magazines.
- A photograph relating to a plant or product carried.
- Doordarshan and All India Radio carried the news: Duration, in terms of seconds, covered in each news, Regional and National.
- Any other TV coverage related to the corporation.
- Coverage of the corporate logo in sport events.