19 Step 4: Evaluate

During this phase of the process, the public relations plan should address these four steps of evaluation:

  1. Define benchmarks.
  2. Select the measurement tools that are most appropriate to those benchmarks.
  3. Analyze data, draw actionable conclusions, and make recommendations.
  4. Adjust strategies, implement changes and re-evaluate progress.

Benchmarks are sign posts that are flagged throughout the plan as points at which progress should be measured.  These points should align with the measurable outcomes defined by the SMART objectives established in Stage 2 of the plan.  As well, the effectiveness of the communication objectives for strategies and tactics constructed in Stage 3 should also be measured.  To provide a thorough and ongoing approach to evaluating these benchmarks, both formative and  summative evaluation processes must be employed. Formative evaluation occurs throughout the implementation of the plan to ensure that things stay on track and that signposts indicated in the project management tools are being met.  This form of evaluation is critical to the overall implementation of the plan as it allows for course corrections before the plan can become derailed.  Summative evaluation occurs after the plan has been implemented to measure the overall effectiveness of the final results.  Summative evaluation in a strategic public relations plan most often reflects the assessment of the project goal and objectives.

Later in this course, we will spend more time on evaluation and identify the differences between impact evaluation and reaction evaluation.  We will also compare evaluation tools and strategies and connect evaluation processes to organizational mission and vision statements.



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