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.

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P.R. Tactics & Channels: How MorphPR Uses Them to Help Connections for Life

By: Courtney Costello

It can be confusing to be a public relations practitioner this day in age. With so many different audiences and an ever-growing media landscape, it can be hard to decipher what direction to take your campaign in. Sure, a PR practitioner can work with their client to create specific goals and strategies for a campaign, but it’s the implementation of these things that can be tricky.

To begin: what exactly is a PR tactic? Often confused with the concept of a strategy, a tactic is different than its antecedent. A tactic, in its simplest form, can be described as a “strategy on wheels.” In other words, a strategy is the list of actions created by the PR practioner to achieve their goals and the tactics are the steps taken based off the strategy. Therefore, tactics must be concise, tangible and applicable.

Baton Rouge non-profit, Connections for Life, wants to drive traffic toward its thrift store. One of MorphPR’s strategies to achieve this goal is to host a booth at Louisiana Earth Day in downtown Baton Rouge to promote thrifting and ultimately drive traffic to the store. Thus, a tactic they’ve created is to handout promotional marketing materials, such as a brochure, to the Baton Rouge residents who attend the event and invite them to visit the thrift store.

PR ChannelsNow that you understand tactics, how can you maximize their effectiveness? One way is utilization of the best channel based off your client’s key publics/target audience to distribute your messaging and implement your tactics. This is the time to use the research you have previously collected and apply it to your campaign. Whether it’s to send press releases to your local news channel or distributing fliers at your local church, it’s important to maximize the amount of exposure your client receives and exhaust all channels possible. This can be done by multichannel marketing. Multichannel marketing is a modern method that encompasses the combination of different channels, to work together and maximize the effect of your messages and tactics.

In an effort to promote the Connections for Life thrift store, MorphPR will post promotional messages on the organizations official social media accounts in conjunction with sending an e-newsletter to subscribers. This allows the Connections for Life message to reach a larger audience than if it is only been distributed through one channel. This conglomerate of viewership can also be referred to as the “asteroid effect.” This analogy describes the use of multi-channel tactics to create a more extensive effect.

When implementing the tactics of your campaign it’s important to remember that it’s not about just one channel, but about many channels. While it’s important to decipher what specific channels are more important than others based off the research of your key publics, it’s vital to your campaign that you choose as many channels as possible to effectively distribute your campaigns message.

Courtney Costello is the MorphPR strategy director and a senior mass communication major from New York. View her digital portfolio or connect with her on LinkedIn.