Evaluation:

The Fourth Element of the RACE Planning Formula

Research
Action Planning
Communication
Evaluation

This is where your reward comes! It’s important to review the results and benefits of all your activities and to determine during the planning process how you will measure success. Remember also that this "final" step will become “research” for your next plan and for your ongoing PR initiatives in the circular RACE process of research, action planning, communication and evaluation. Whether you decide to do it formally or informally, this stage is easy to skip but very important!

PR results are traditionally difficult to measure, but there are several tools you can use that generally fall into two categories:

  • Quantitative measurement: most objective and precise, but usually most expensive (time and money)
  • Qualitative measurement: subjective, but usually adequate to give you a good feel for whether your activities are worth your time and monetary investments

Quantitative

Before and after survey:

When beginning a PR program for the first time, a professional doesn’t usually have the need or the budget to conduct a pre-survey (prior to beginning the PR program) to determine current awareness levels of you and your practice. However, if at some point you want to do this, it will become a good basis for determining change (i.e., effectiveness of your program) through future follow-up surveys. The cost:benefit ratio makes this a rare measurement tactic, but for large practices it may be feasible.

Benchmark analysis:

During the research phase, you established benchmark information. Now is the time to update these numbers to reveal how your PR activities have changed them. You will probably not begin to see any significant change until six-nine months after you begin your program; be encouraged by any results you see at the six-month measurement.

Qualitative

Personally, I find the qualitative measurement methods to be the most interesting.

They include:

  • Success Criteria: pull out the success criteria you developed during the planning stage and review which items you have accomplished, partially accomplished, or not accomplished. Discuss with staff or self-identify reasons for unaccomplished activities and determine what does and does not continue to be important.
  • Plus-delta: brainstorm what worked that you would like to continue doing, and what you would like to change. Discuss with staff or think about what you learned and how you will adjust your program going forward.
  • Get in the habit of asking for feedback – from journalists, patients or clients, and peers. 

It is critical that you do some kind of evaluation. This will help you decide whether to increase certain activities and to decrease or eliminate others. It will help you consider whether to invest more or less time and money in PR. It will probably also help build your enthusiasm and reveal where it makes sense to look for help in conducting certain activities.


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