Output, Out-take and Outcome – on the way out?

Posted on: November 1, 2007

Jim Nail of the US media evaluation provider TNS is arguing against the use of the three evaluation categories – Output , Out-take and Outcome – as being too generalised and non-specific. Here’s the link to his blog, These terms were developed by Walter Lindenmann in the early 1990s as a neat categorisation and have been promoted through many books and industry/academic papers.

Output is the production of the public relations effort (messages sent). This is the Presentation stage and may include measurement of press releases and other communication methods

Out-takeor Out-growth is the understanding and retention of messages by publics. It looks at the attention, comprehension and acceptance.

Outcome is the effect of the PR effort on attitudes, opinions and behaviours. This measures the actions of the target groups.

There is also a more recent Out-measure, called Outflow that considers the build of value by improvements to reputation and the creation of organisational/stakeholder relations.

This group of Out-measures is convenient and, as far as I can see, widely accepted. What’s your view?


4 Responses to "Output, Out-take and Outcome – on the way out?"

Dr. Tom — One issue I’ve observed is a lack of understanding among leadership of the business result of our PR activities. I like the OOO method because I perceive that it’s easy for non-PR people to understand — My concern is that if we introduce another complement of jargon, we are likely adding to misunderstanding rather than coherence.

For example, a lot of work on corporate reputation (particularly in social responsibility/ philanthropy) results in a “halo” effect for the organization. That is, the outcome of the effort is that constituents are more likely to take action in support of the firm’s business if they perceive it to be a “good corporate neighbor.”

That is something a CEO can get their arms around. The specific activities ave outtakes — such as Web traffic or phone inquiries — but those are weigh stations on the road to the objectives — the outcomes.

I’ll stick with Dr. Walt on this one.
Sean Williams

Just to keep the record straight for future generations, Dr Tom Spit:

Walt produced two papers for the Commission of PR Measurement and Evaluation. His original paper in the late 1990s used the terms output, outgrowth and outcome. His second paper in 2002, on the Institute for PR’s website updated the first paper and introduced the three terms: output; outtake; and outcome and a better framework for their use – after discussion with other members of the Commission. The term outtake was first used in papers prepared by the UK’s CIRR in the late 1990s.

I agree with Sean, the three terms work well within a strategic evaluation framework. One should go back to the CIRR and Walt’s two papers to really understand their definitions. Jim Nail, like many other media evaluation providers, only see these terms from their limited worldviews: media relations. For example, I’d ask Jim to understand these terms within a public relations program that did not include among its tactics the use of media relations.

Fraser Likely
Likely Communication Strategies Ltd.

I’m with retaining the status quo – not just because I can remember OOO – but for the simple reason that using (repeatedly) the word ‘influence’ has potential for woolliness. An outcome is a clearer concept that you either do, or don’t, achieve.

Caroline Wilson

Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

cheers, Recombination.

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