Measuring public relations is possible and important for organizations to understand how the public relates to and values the company. In an era of big data, it is imperative for companies to prioritize the analysis and attention to the important topic of public relations in an effort to enhance their image in the marketplace. Leadership must devote resources and support a culture of positive public relations that adds value to the organization. The following will discuss the possibilities and importance of measuring public relations and supporting public relations awareness through strong organizational leadership.
Through strong, thoughtful, intentional organizational leadership, the measurement of public relations is possible and beneficial. Our text, A Practitioner’s Guide to Public Relations Research, Measurement, and Evaluation opines, public relations as measurable through well established goals and objectives that are integrated throughout and clearly defined (Stacks, & Michaelson, 2010, p. 16). When leadership promotes the importance of strong public relations, and defines metrics that support the value of public relations, the organization will develop an understanding and respect for their actions and the impact to the bottom line. Public relations outcomes must have a demonstrated correlation to business outcomes (Stacks, & Michaelson, 2010, p. 26).
Public relations consist of people’s attitudes, beliefs, and values (Stacks, & Michaelson, 2010, p. 36); therefore, measuring public relations is more challenging than measuring hard data. However, it is possible and recommended to ensure proper attention and resources are committed to the right areas that will add the most value or return on investment for the organization. Measurements are achieved through polls, surveys, and questionnaires in an attempt to identify attitudes, beliefs and values associated with intentions and actual behavior (Stacks, & Michaelson, 2010, p. 38). These measurements provide varying perspectives of the organization or specific programs in an attempt to measure impact. There are three basic forms of measurement, including; equal appearing interval scale, Likert-type measures, and semantic differential measures (Stacks, & Michaelson, 2010, p. 38). The goals of each are to identify where on a scale of negative to positive feelings does the person fit in regard to the company, product, service or advertisement in question. Acquiring and accumulating these results and comparing the intended behaviors to actual organizational results (such as increased or decreased sales) will identify the public relations impact on specific projects.
Leadership has the power to influence organizational behaviors that promote positive public relations with targeted customers. According to the Journal of Public Relations Research, leaders that facilitate effective strategic communication identify the crucial dimensions of public relations and develop reliable and valid measurement of these associated dimensions (Meng & Berger, 2013, p. 142). Developing a culture cognizant of the importance of public relations, demands leadership that is committed to fostering an environment that supports the organizational goals. Public relations leadership construct encompasses six essential dimensions: self-dynamics, team collaboration, ethical orientation, relationship building, strategic decision making capability, and communications knowledge management capability (Meng & Berger, 2013, p. 158).
While the measurement of public relations impact on organizational goals is subjective, uncommon, challenging to identify and interpret; most would agree there is a strong correlation between successful messaging and organizational outcomes. Leaders must establish clear communication, promoting the aforementioned attributes, which support a culture of achieving goals and objectives through measuring public relations results.
Meng, J., & Berger, B. (2013). An integrated model of excellent leadership in public relations: Dimensions, measurement, and validation. Journal of Public Relations Research, 25(2), 141-167.
Stacks, D. W., & Michaelson, D (2010). A practitioner’s guide to public relations research, measurement and evaluation. New York, N.Y.] (222 East 46th Street: Business Expert Press