Tackling the big “E”: Effective tools for evaluating our Connections for Life PR campaign

By: Shaunda Johnson.

According to Meera.com, evaluation involves collecting and analyzing information about a program’s activities, characteristics and outcomes. Though evaluation is often seen as something that is done at the end, evaluation is an ongoing process that starts when a plan of action is made.

Image via: http://bit.ly/1zdGuiW
Image via: http://bit.ly/1zdGuiW

As MorphPR began to draft its one-year campaign for Connections for Life, the agency also drafted evaluation tools to determine the success of the campaign as it unfolded. Evaluation tools are needed to make improvements, demonstrate impact and make informed decisions in the future. These reasons reinforce the importance evaluation for MorphPR and how the agency can provide evidence for the client. In fact, 84 percent of PR leaders say that “evaluation makes PR credible.”

However, there are many myths about program evaluation,  Apa.org describes the top three as:

  1. Evaluation is a time-consuming activity that generates lots of boring, useless data.
  2. Evaluation is a one-time event done only to prove the success or failure of a program.
  3. Evaluation is an overly complicated process that must be done by an outside expert because it will be a burden to program staff.

Anyone functioning under the assumption that these myths are true is on the wrong path and will spend excess time, money and resources on programs that are unsuccessful. Especially in the PR field where the measurable impact in terms of monetary gains is severely low which leaves the PR department often taking a backseat to the marketing department when it comes to company budget distributions. There is no doubt that evidence is king in the PR field and evaluation is how to prove its value to the company.

Here are some evaluation methods from Smallbusiness.chron.com that are easy, cheap and can be performed multiple times throughout a program or campaign.

Surveys

With free or low cost survey making tools such as Survey Monkey and Qualtrics , surveys are now easier than ever to create, distribute and analyze. Surveys are the most preferred research and evaluation method due to the low cost and convenience of implementation.

Media Content Analysis

Though this method can become tedious if the client is a major corporation with numerous media. It is an integral factor for a small nonprofit or business to be able to see the evidence. It’s not just about quantity but also quality when tracking media coverage, it’s important to monitor how the media is talking about the company and how many of the company’s key targeted messages are being picked up.

Online Metrics

Obtaining online analytics has become increasingly simple with free tools such as Facebook Insights, Google Analytics and Twitter Analytics.  These tools take complex data into simple snapshots of information about the company’s website or social media profile. Again, it’s not all about quantity when analyzing a digital presence and comment evaluation is inevitable.

MorphPR utilities these  evaluation tools to provide evidence to Connections for Life and to assess the agency’s next step. Just remember that tackling the big “E” is simple as long as you begin with the end in mind.

Shuanda Johnson is MorphPR’s design director and a senior in mass communication with a concentration in public relations. Check out her online portfolio and follow her on Twitter.