Wednesday, 5 March 2014

PR Evaluation Survey 2 - 45% say there's a "lack of information"

This is the second of two posts on small-scale research into current PR measurement and evaluation practices. See # below for the methodology.

The first posting identified that while 80% claimed to formally or informally evaluate PR activity, 43% continued to use AVE as a prominent measurement metric.

This post reports on who is doing evaluation, the percentage of PR activity evaluated, some attitudes, knowledge of the Barcelona Principles and students’ views on the whether evaluation was being undertaken ethically.

Who did the evaluation of PR activities?
Account team/PR staff – 45.6%
In-house research and outside media analysis company – 26.5%
In-house research section – 16.3%
·         It looks as if self-certification of PR activity is common

What percentage of PR activity was evaluated?
100% - 35.7%
90% - 19.0%
80% - 11.9%
·         Good news – Two-thirds of the 80% who evaluate their PR coverage (53.3%) measure and monitor 80% to 100% of their PR activity

Questions about attitudes to PR measurement and evaluation
1)    PR budget is difficult to obtain: 37.7% agree or strongly agree; 28.2% disagree or strong disagree
2)    There is a lack of information on PR evaluation: 45.3% agree or strongly agree; 34.0% disagree or strong disagree
3)    There is a lack of time for PR measurement: 55.6% agree or strong agree; 24.1% disagree or strongly disagree
4)    PR is difficult to measure: 35.8% agree or strongly agree; 35.8% disagree or strongly disagree
5)    Practitioners fear evaluation: 25.0% agree or strongly agree; 42.3% disagree or strongly disagree
6)    Without measurement, PR’s future is threatened: 64.1% agree or strong agree; 20.8% disagree or strongly disagree

·         Mixed messages – 7% more say budget is difficult to obtain; there is a gap of 11% between those who agree that there is a lack of information on PR measurement (a large 45.3%) and those who don’t; a clear majority don’t have time to evaluate ('too busy doing PR'); there is a balance between those who find PR activity difficult to measure and those who don’t, which is an improvement; Many disagree that practitioners fear evaluation, but nearly-two thirds (64.1%) agree that PR’s future is threatened without the consistent use of measurement and evaluation.

·         The most concerning attitudinal outcome is that 45.3% of organisations say there is a lack of information on PR measurement and evaluation methods. This is a negative comment on the professionalism of many practitioners who can’t be bothered to look at abundant resources in terms of online materials (often free), books and training courses. Measurement and evaluation has been a major education and training topic since the mid-1990s and appears to have been ignored by them.

Students were asked about the percentage of PR budgets that were applied to PR measurement and evaluation. Most, not surprisingly because of their junior positions, ‘Didn’t know’ (53.8%) but the next largest valid percentage was for 1-3% of total budget (17.3%), which aligns with other research in the UK and Australia.

Barcelona Principles
Students were questioned whether the Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles (AMEC 2010) was referred to or mentioned at their main placement. Their answers were wholly negative with 55/55 ticking “NO”. Bearing in mind the support that AMEC, CIPR, PRCA, PRSA, IPR, Global Alliance, etc have given to the Barcelona Principles in the past three years, this is a very disappointing result but is similar to US research (Ragan and others) that found low awareness.

Was PR evaluation undertaken ethically
YES – 74.0%; NO – 26.0%
No comment!


# Methodology: PR students at Bournemouth University were surveyed recently about their experiences of evaluation practices during their 2012/13 sandwich year placement. 55 students (85%) took part, voluntarily, in the self-completion survey. As all but one (98.2%) had been on placement for nine months or more in a single organisation, they can be considered valid observers of practices taking place around them or in which they participated. The data were analysed using SPSS which provided descriptive statistics, mainly frequencies. The data used in these posts is based on ‘Valid Percent’ which omits missing answers unless they are a large part of the sample.