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Chapter 4

PR 664 Chapter 4: PR 664 Lecture : Chapter 4


Department
Public Relations
Course Code
PR 664
Professor
Robert Dittmer
Chapter
4

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Chapter 4 (SM) Measuring Public Relations Outcomes
Public relations measurement often deals with what academics would call mediating or
intermediary variablesthings that will impact on the final business outcome but are not
necessarily financial in nature.
Organizational, brand, or product credibility is one of those variables; something that cannot be
seen but can be measured and verified as a valid and reliable predictor of final outcome, which
for public relations is increasingly focusing on nonfinancial indicators.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, scholars and professionals have pushed for a
standardization of measures used to create scalar measures to ensure equivalency of data and
produce comparative analyses
This chapter introduces the readers to measurement and evaluation from a social scientific
perspective, one that allows the public relations professional to create reliable and valid
measures of nonfinancial indicators
The chapter differentiates between hard financial indicators and soft nonfinancial indicators.
Nonfinancial indicators include (but are not limited to) measures of confidence, credibility,
relationship, reputation, trust, and indicators of awareness, interest and understanding, desire,
and intent to adopt
Fundamentals of Data and Measurement
What does it mean when someone says that they are measuring something?
Does it mean that what is being measured is observable?
Does it establish differences or similarities between objects of measurement?
Is it something that comes naturally?
Is it done to create data that can be used to establish relationships between things?
Does it mean anything in particular?
All of these are questions that measurement researchers ask daily when they try to create, use,
or evaluate measures for any use.
Public relations measurement researchers are no different, except that they have entered the
process a little later than their promotional communication colleagues.
What does it mean when we say we are measuring something?
It means that we are establishing a ruler that allows for comparisons and interpretations of
“data” obtained from those measures.

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For instance, in the physical world, measurement is fairly straight forward; we often use inches,
centimeters, yards, meters, miles, and so forth to measure linear distance
We have est. a metric- (a numeric value associated with campaign research demonstrating
statistically whether outtake or, outcome, or both objectives are being reached) can be used to
describe something; distance or height in this case.
In the social world we also measure things that are not as observable, but are “potentially
observable” such as credibility, reputation, trust etc.
Based on our created nonfinancial measures we can then make decisions as to whether
something is longer or shorter, higher in credibility, or lower in trust when compared against
something else.
However, notice that the interpretation of the measurement is usually less precise than the
measure itself.
Measurement interpretation often says something is heavier than something else and in many
instances this can be done with different measures, pounds of personal weight as compared to
stones of personal weight.
While measurement is more precise and can be tested for its reliability and validity,
interpretation is determined with words.
Measurement as a Public Relations Tool
Measurement is an observation.
From a business perspective, measurement is most often used to track financially related
variables.
These variables include number of units produced, stock prices, gross and net profits, etc.
Their measurement is quite precise since the data are hard, they are directly observable and
can be counted.
Marketing can tell how many products are sold per 1-800-phone call-in, can calculate the cost
per call across a number of other hard data pointsnumber of hours staff put in, returns, etc
Human resources can provide a breakdown of cost per unit by employee and employee costs
(wages and benefits, for instance). From a public relations perspective, measurement is less
precise because the data are soft.

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Soft data are not easily observed, which is one reason why investment in public relations
measurement has suffered.
Instead of focusing on the mediating variables that affect business outcome, public relations
counted simple indicators of distribution.
As such the “clip book” measured success in the number of releases sent out and picked up in
the media (numbers), we could count the number of “likes” on Facebook and the number of
“Tweets” mentioning a client or brand, the story’s placement in the media (could be measured
as above or below the fold, page number, presence, or absence of an accompanying
photograph) etc.
Since the mid-1990s measurement has become important to public relations because public
relations theory and strategy driven by that theory, driven hard by public relations academics
and some professionals, who have backgrounds in anthropology, communication, psychology,
and sociology, have argued hard for the mediating impact of public relations and demanded
that public relations measurement begin to focus of nonfinancial variables on bottom-line
results.
This is not to say that simple counts are invalid; they are just one of a number of measurement
tools the professional can use to demonstrate effectiveness, but they
are not as precise or do they provide the data required to demonstrate impact on bottom lines.
Once it is established that reliable and valid nonfinancial measures can be created, their
effectiveness during and after the campaign as related to the financial indicators can be
assessed.
What this provides the public relations professional is a way to actually establish campaign
impact against planned benchmarks, compare public relations effectiveness as related to
ancillary marketing and advertising indicators, and at campaign’s end demonstrate impact on
final return on investment within the public relations department and the general business as a
whole.
Measurement is an integral function of the Excellence Pyramid’s basic or proponent level.
Where there is hard data based on financially related measures, they should be gathered,
interpreted, and evaluated.
Where there is soft data based on nonfinancial related measures, those measures should be
created or, if available from academic or business sources, adapted, gathered, interpreted, and
evaluated.
In the end, both sets of datafinancial and nonfinancialshould be used to assess impact on
public relations and general business goals and objectives.
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