Measurement and its relevance to public relations: The relationship edge

One of the many important parts of public relations is relationships. So when it comes to measuring the actual strategic results that stem from successful public relations campaigns, effective evaluation measures are those that show changes in relational attitudes and, in turn, behaviours.  These results are most reliably obtained via qualitative measures such as surveys, feedback polls and focus groups.

At One Plus One, measurement serves two major purposes: firstly, it allows us to become aware of the strategic value of cultivating relationships between our clients and their different stakeholder groups; and secondly, it allows us to clearly articulate this relational value to our clients.

Effective measurement is crucial because it contributes to balancing the interests of the client and the desired outputs they seek to achieve.

The historical and social development of measurement to strategic best practice in public relations can primarily be traced to public information practice in World War Two America. It developed post-war to meet different stakeholder demand for the emerging discipline of corporate social responsibility.

Since the digital shift that began in the 1990s, public attention to the agenda of companies has burgeoned, and there is heightened focus on ethical governance and corporate social return.

Complexities in the now omnipresent digital environment have placed an even greater emphasis on the ongoing need for effective relationship measurement. In such a fast-paced and highly reactive media environment, many public relations firms place even more value on being visible than they have in the past. But it remains a basic truth that relational value is crucial to establishing and maintaining a long-term strategic advantage.

At One Plus One, we believe ongoing measurement excellence is crucial, and use a carefully developed feedback loop based on best industry practice and the internationally recognised Barcelona Measurement Principles.

We see measurement as key to making a genuine difference to the interests of our clients. Through a combination of traditional and online media throughout all stages of our programmes, we seek to continually measure relational strengths and gaps of our clients, and contribute our best practices to improving them.

During my time as a Junior Consultant with One Plus One Group, I’ve observed the realities of the public relations industry, and confirmed that it is often characterised by pressures of short deadlines and tight budgets.  I have been impressed by the ongoing vigilance to goal-setting, research and development, and of course the measurement, of public relations programmes amid these complexities.

It’s not an easy thing to do to effectively measure PR output, but the intention should always be there. Advertising icon and DDB founder, Dale Bernbach once remarked:  “Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make.” The same approach should inform PR measurement, because it’s safe to assume nobody remembers how many times companies, brands or organisations appear in the media – but they will formulate an opinion that’s good, bad or indifferent as a consequence.

Catherine Mules, Junior Consultant