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.

Public Relations Strategies and Connections for Life: Getting the Message Across

By: Courtney Costello

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Image via: http://bit.ly/1Bp5YtF

As public relations practitioners, our job is to further our clients goals and objectives while positively promoting their business overall. In a way, we act as a guide on their journey to success. In order to do this, we carry out a series strategies and tactics for the client. For example, at MorphPR we have created a strategic message plan and media timeline to ensure our client, Connections for Life, is promoted to the public in a positive and effective way.

However, this is easier said than done.

The plan created by the public relations firm, in this case MorphPR, must be constructed strategically to not only be effective, but be setup in a way that their client, Connections for Life, breaks from the clutter and stands out. To guarantee this, here are a few strategies PR practitioners can use:

  1. Do your homework.

 Before you can begin formulating a message plan for your client, you must first understand your client. This means knowing your clients mission, history and goals, so you can make informed decisions in regards to your client. For example, Connections for Life’s mission is to aid in the rehabilitation of women who have recently been released from prison and are reentering society. MorphPR after learning of their client’s mission could then begin to draft a strategic message that encompassed the organization’s mission. Along with being fully knowledgeable of your client’s mission, it’s important to know your clients history and your client’s competition. This way, you can create a strategic message that is original and does not conflict with past campaigns, or overlaps with your competitions messaging.

  1. Know your campaign goals.

Who does your client want to target? Who is your customer? What are you trying to achieve? These are all important questions you should answer in regards to your campaign, in order to carry out an effective message strategy. At MorphPR, we met with Connections for Life on several occasion to find out their areas of concern and overall goals. One was to strengthen the association between their thrift store and the program it directly supports. Therefore, we decided as a firm we must create a strategy that would not only urge people to shop at the thrift store, but to give them incentive to shop at the thrift store. In other words, we think an effective strategy would be tapping into the customer’s emotion and showing them their dollars can directly change someone’s life. Therefore, having a grasp on what your client wants to achieve can shape your message and give you direction when creating it.

  1. It takes more than just a news release.

In the modern day public relations landscape, it takes more than just a news release to disseminate your message to the media. Along with sending out a well-written news release, public relation firms should target media that directly relate to their target. This includes, but is not limited to, television, social media, blogs, etc. In these cases, news releases are not always appropriate. Be prepared to create media advisories, pitches and pre-planned social media posts to get your message across in the best way. In efforts to promote the Connections for Life thrift sore, MorphPR is not only sending press releases to the appropriate recieptants, but is sending pitches to local fashion bloggers to promote thrifting and where their readers can go to thrift. This is a non-traditional way to get our message across, but can prove to be an effective one. All in all, not all clients are the same, so why should the way you promote them be?

These are just a few strategies on how to effectively craft and promote a message. Being creative when creating a message for your client is key, but what is most important is to be strategic and make sure your client’s goals and objectives are being met.

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.

MorphPR promotes Connections for Life, realizes importance of excellent writing

By: Kelli Griffin

Throughout our time in the Manship School of Mass Communication, one lesson has been stressed over and over from day one: the importance of impeccable writing.

Image via: http://bit.ly/1AYI6fI
Image via: http://bit.ly/1AYI6fI

In public relations, the written word is at the core of everything we do. from memos and talking points, to news releases and media advisories and from video scripts and research reports, to tweets and Facebook posts, everything comes back to writing.

I have put together a few simple tips that can help anyone improve their PR writing skills.

  1. Make sure you always use AP style. Because so many of a public relations practitioner’s deliverables are sent to the media, it is important to write the same way as the media. This means you should use active voice whenever possible, should always use parallel construction and should never use the Oxford comma unless leaving it out would cause confusion.
  2. Inverted pyramid is your friend. When writing a news release, make sure you use the inverted pyramid style. This means that the most important information comes first, and the least important comes last. Newspapers have limited space and newscasts have limited time. Reporters and editors will just cut information off of the end of your news release to make it fit within their story parameters.
  3. Know your medium. The writing for social media will look much different than the writing for a sponsorship package. Tweets are limited to 140 characters and can be more casual, while an annual report should be more formal and professional.
  4. Know your audience. When doing work for clients, keep in mind that not only are you giving your work to them, your work will be passed on to their audience. Our client, Connections for Life, is a nonprofit in Baton Rouge that helps women who have recently been released from incarceration to transition into an independent life. Connections for Life also runs a thrift store. We have to find balance in our messages. What appeals to thrift store shoppers may not appeal to people who donate to nonprofits. Knowing who is likely to receive our messages will help us shape our stories to have the greatest impact.
  5. Edit, edit, edit! Always check over your work at least once, if not twice. Then have someone else look at it too. Careless errors detract from your message and make you seem less credible.

Writing skills are a key component of any PR practitioner’s toolbox. Taking the time to think through what you write will pay off in the long run, and remember, as with any other skill, practice makes perfect.

Image via: http://bit.ly/1Mn2cqx
Image via: http://bit.ly/1Mn2cqx

Kelli Griffin is the writing director for MorphPR and is a senior double majoring in public relations and accounting. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.