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Two-tier evaluation can help corporate communicators gain management support

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Author(s): Dr Jim Macnamara

Journal: PRism Online PR Journal
ISSN 1448-4404

Volume: 4;
Issue: 2;
Date: 2006;
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Keywords: public relations | corporate communications | Gaunt & Wright | Watson & Simmons | evaluation | Fleisher & Mahaffey | measurement

ABSTRACT
While public relations and corporate communication practitioners are under pressure to evaluate their work, particularly in terms of outcomes and Return on Investment, they also point to budget and time pressures which they identify as barriers to undertaking rigorous measurement (Gaunt & Wright, 2004; Watson & Simmons, 2004). Furthermore, senior management constantly pressed for time and with limited understanding of the intricacies of PR and corporate communication, want and often demand simple metrics – sometimes as brief as one or two numbers on a balanced scorecard (Fleisher & Mahaffey, 1997). This paper argues that the response to these budget and time constraints and management pressures to ‘keep it simple’ should not be to undertake measurement using simplistic methods which cannot gain reliable and valid data. Rather, a way forward is a two-tier approach in which practitioners apply rigorous research to provide themselves with reliable data on which to base strategic planning and advice to management, monitor progress, fine-tune tactics based on feedback, and evaluate outtakes and outcomes thoroughly, and then at a senior reporting level select and summarise the most salient data to provide management with an overview to meet their needs.
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