The UK Government Communication Service has published at updated version of its evaluation framework to help communicators across the wider public sector to better measure the success of their work and appraise their activities.
Does this mean that those in the private sector can ignore the lessons from this guide? Surely, their work is already more targeted and results-oriented?
It's the pursuit of quantifiable results that has been the main driver of false measures such as the discredited advertising value equivalent (AVE), and as speakers at the AMEC conference argued, the goal of 'PR attribution' is problematic. If everything has to be geared to the bottom line, how do you evaluate CSR and philanthropy programmes? How do you isolate out the effects of PR from other marketing communication activity?
Government comms looks differently at the problem: the focus is on using communication to affect behaviour change (in other words, on outcomes, not outputs).
As executive director of government communications Alex Aiken writes:
So evaluation is not an isolated activity, but part of campaign planning. Here, the GCS uses the OASIS campaign planning guide:
Examples are given of typical metrics across inputs, outputs, outtakes, outcomes across the three types of public sector campaign activity:
Then there's a framework for calculating return on investment (ROI). This involves five steps, and requires assumptions to be clearly identified:
What about intangibles - such as measuring reputation? 'There is still much confusion about how to best measure and manage reputation.' But 'measuring reputation is a good form of organisational listening.'
The framework suggests three questions:
The GCS has produced a Data Ethics Framework to ensure the appropriate use of data in government and the wider public sector. The key steps are:
The last page of the framework presents the GCS model for evaluation. It's a very clear summary of the steps you need to take to prove the value of any public relations and communication activity and most will turn straight to this page, and return to it frequently.
PR Place reported on the AMEC Summit held in Barcelona on June 12-14.
Richard Bailey is editor of PR Place. He teaches and assesses undergraduate, postgraduate and professional students.