Evaluating Public Relations Resulls

Public relations results are difficult to measure because PR is used with other promotion tools and its impact is often indirect. If PR is used before other tools come into play, its contribution is easier to evaluate.

The easiest measure of publicity effectiveness is the number of exposures in the media. Public relations people give the client a "clippings book' showing all the media that carried news about the product and a summary such as the following:

Media coverage included 3,500 column inches of news and photographs in 350 publications with a combined circulation of 79.4 million; 2,500 minutes of air time on 290 radio stations and an estimated audience of 65 million; and 660 minutes of air time on 160 television stations with an estimated audience of 91 million.

The summary would also give an indication of the cost of the time and space had they been purchased at current advertising rates.

This exposure measure is not very satisfying, however. It does not tell how many people actually read or beard the message, or what they thought afterwards. In addition, because of the media overlap in readership and viewership, it docs not give information on the net audience reached.

Making Sponsorship Work for the Company

Marketing Highlight 19.4

dren growing and monitoring plants in their own gardens, was carried out in conjunction with the Society for Nature Conservancy Council (SNCC). The other concerned tie-ups among its dealer distribution points and the iocal SNCC office, which involved building an owl sanctuary and protecting a bluebell wood. Such PR activities have served to reinforce the company's corporate identity.

To be a successful sponsor, the firm must meet certain requirements:

• There are clear marketing objectives.

• The objectives can be fulfilled by sponsorship.

• Legally, the contract is watertight, and has been vetted by a lawyer or a specialist in the field.

• The staff are prepared to work hard to make it a success - the launch of the campaign is the easy part, the hard grind comes later.

• Internally, staff have fully accepted the idea and various departments agree about its relevance.

The firm should decide its sponsorship target: for example, sports, the arts, a national event. It would do well to seek the advice of consultants or specialist bodies in order to decide the best sponsorship area that matches its objectives. Importantly, sponsorship can bring good results if used in conjunction with other elements of the communication mix.

Sources; Louella Miles, 'Get fit iced', Marketing Business (March 1992), pp. 30-3; Terry Boeles, 'Why £9 billion is put on board the sponsorship bicycle', The European (t> 12 May 1994), p. 20.

A better measure is the change in product awareness, knowledge and attitude resulting from the publicity campaign. Assessing the change requires measuring the bcfore-and-after-the-eampaign levels of these measures. Finally, sales and profit impact, if obtainable, is the best measure of public relations effort. If advertising and sales promotion were also stepped up during the period of the PR campaign, their contribution has to be considered.

Increasingly, companies - high-media-profile organizations such as banks, food, chemicals and pharmaceutical firms - are investing in longer-term media tracking to help public relations managers to design and implement more effective PR programmes. They employ specialist media analysis and evaluation agencies or PR consultants to conduct in-depth media analyses that go a long way from mere counting or press cuttings and measuring column inches. Instead, the analyses, which include coverage in both electronic and print media, identify issues and public perceptions about the organization's reputation, products and services and those of their competitors, as well as tracking legislative initiatives. They generate 'management intelligence' to determine the effectiveness of an organization's PR activities and to help forward planning of communications and customer/public relationship building, including how management should react in a crisis management situation. For example, the charity organization Barnado's conducted media content analyses throughout its 150th anniversary year to identify if the public's perception of Barnado's was consistent with the modern aspects of Barnado's work. The charity was concerned that people still thought of Barnado's as an outfit that runs orphans' homes, whereas the last one closed in the early 1980s, and they are now tackling modern childcare issues. By systematically tracking all reference to Barnado's work currently in the press, the organization found that the analyses proved that its initial strategy was working and no changes were made to its campaign as a result. When Shell UK faced adverse publicity over "the disposal of its defunct oil rig, Brent Spar, Shell hired experts to

Chapter J 9 A/«ss Cftffflmmietttifms: Advertising, Sales Promotion and Public Relations provide in-depth analyses of media coverage and public opinion. The information helped the company deliver a strategic counter-attack once management understood the issues embedded in the crisis: who the opposition was and the nature of its agenda.39

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Digital Cameras For Beginners

Although we usually tend to think of the digital camera as the best thing since sliced bread, there are both pros and cons with its use. Nothing is available on the market that does not have both a good and a bad side, but the key is to weigh the good against the bad in order to come up with the best of both worlds.

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