Every autumn, the dualities of research and evaluation emerge: we rely on data and analysis providers to help evaluate our year-to-date performance and depend on their data to inform communication decisions. Simultaneously, and perhaps ironically, as we look to analytics providers to inform our performance evaluation, we evaluate them as the annual renewal approaches.
Interest in PR measurement, research and evaluation have never been greater, for two main reasons: low-cost SaaS platforms put media analysis within reach of even the smallest organizations; and C-suites demand PR be measured, just like every other part of the enterprise.
PR data, research and evaluation continue to flourish in agencies, non-profits and corporations large and small. To encourage those considering the field and inform hiring decisions, we spoke with seven corporate members of the Institute for Public Relations Measurement Commission.Each delivers research-based insight and guidance to communication colleagues.
Crisis pros know it’s important to have the right tools in their arsenal. A platform that can monitor traditional and social media is one of them. Having such data before, during and after a crisis can be invaluable to crisis pros.
With so many software choices and cascades of data, the question changes from ‘Which platform(s) do I buy?’ to ‘How do I manage the tool(s) and interpret the data?’ Communicators eventually find themselves bumping up against the limitations of what technology alone can do. In response, tools are neglected and investment is wasted.
For those interested in approaching PR as a research-and-reality-informed process, there is a simple framework: ‘the Public Relations continuum.’ The six-step cycle drives continual improvement, versus objectives and against competitors, to provide opportunities for refinement with every rotation.
Companies and communicators require data to gain insight about consumers. In theory, the rise in online shopping during the pandemic should be a boon for data gathering. The reality is more complicated, especially as consumers rebel against ‘data stealing’ and Google, among others, is set to better protect browsing history. Still, there are options to gather data transparently and insights gained have never been more important.
We know that PR can be a powerful tool to complement marketing efforts. However, within some technology companies, teams may downplay the importance of PR–often because they think it’s not as tangibly measurable as other activities.
Research is more accessible now to more professional communicators. What’s more, communication technology platforms are ubiquitous and at many price points…some cost nothing! With free and low-cost technology, the decision to measure, even with a modest budget, is a matter of willingness rather than ability.
Without the context of comparative analysis, one can pursue what seems like a proper PR plan. Set measurable objectives, develop data-informed strategy and tactics, and evaluate performance…and get everything absolutely wrong.