Archive for July 2007

After three months of discussion, the Study of the Priorities for Public Relations Research (PR Priorities Study – final report) has been completed. The initial piloting was undertaken on DummySpit in April and led to the setting of 26 public relations topics. These were sent to a Delphi study panel (of experts) in five continents covering top academics, leading practitioners and the CEOs of PR industry bodies. After three rounds of intensive email debate, the Top Ten PR research topics are:

1) Public relations’ role in contributing to strategic decision-making, strategy development and realisation, and organisational functioning

2) The value that public relations creates for organisations through building social capital, managing key relationships and realising organisational advantage

3) The measurement and evaluation of public relations, both offline and online

4) Public relations as a fundamental management function

5) Professional skills in public relations; analysis of the industry’s need for education

6) Research into standards of performance among PR professionals; the licensing of practitioners

7) Management of corporate reputation; measurement of reputation

8) Ethics in public relations

9) Integration of public relations with other communication functions; the scope of public relations practice; discipline boundaries

10) Management of relationships

Just outside the top ranked priorities are:

11) Client/employer understanding of public relations

12) The impact of technology on public relations practice and theory.

This report is the first completed international study on public relations research priorities (using a Delphi panel) since the mid-1990s and gives valuable insight into the ‘front and centre’ public relations research areas around the world.

The results will allow academics and practitioners to work closely together to improve understanding of public relations and its most effective and ethical use. It is a benchmark that all research plans and funding can be judged by for relevance and importance.


David Phillips has just posted a podcast on his site about ROI and the measurement of online PR. It follows on from earlier discussion on DummySpit about “pullability” as a measurement of the associative referencing of online communication. From this discussion, the concept of “out-pull” as a measure was proposed. It has received a very positive reception from practitioners and academics.

Is ROI a relevant measure? Listen to David’s views. As he says, analysis shows that the measurement of online PR and communications is not an easy task and not given to financially-based measures.

On a helpful new blog at the Institute for Public Relations, Sean Williams of Goodyear in the US describes low cost methods of judging the effectiveness of the tyre maker’s internal communications, especially on its intranet. 

They have used internal discussion groups to quickly evaluate the corporate intranet and a daily poll question of key topics. It has built dialogue with staff, with around 150 joining the intranet discussion groups and 800 a day taking part in the poll. Some 450 a day check the poll results. 

The outcomes of the Intranet review have been very constructive – “we did get opinions that differed significantly from those we brought to the exercise. Our intranet is better for the experience”, says Sean. 

Although he says the polling methods aren’t scientific, they are a good example of how “little and often” can build up a period-on-period picture of communications. By using internal resources and a mindset set that allows modification, it can be as valuable as formal research methods. 

In Paul Noble and my book, Evaluating Public Relations, we recognised that many communicators want to research but are stumped by cost or lack of knowledge. That’s why we have shown how media evaluation can be set up using a simple Excel-based spreadsheet or even a paper-based clerical method. The information obtained immediately assists media relations activity. 

Doing evaluation is not hard and it gives immediate benefits – Congratulations to Sean for sharing Goodyear’s approach.

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Tom Watson

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