It’s finals week at the University of Minnesota, and I don’t have a pen. This is a problem, especially considering my Strategic Communications Campaigns final is at 4:40pm. “Write it in a blog post man!” stated my brain, and I couldn’t agree more. So as I sit here in Walter Library in the dead center of the U of MN Twin Cities campus, I am going to start a study party with anyone who wants to listen online. I’ll update my post every 5-15 minutes. Let’s ace this test, even though you don’t have to. Click here to join in on the dubstep party jam tunes on spotify.
Strategic Communications Campaigns
Research – How Strategic Communicators Generate Actionable Information
“Research need not be fancy or esoteric. At root, it’s a welcoming inquiring attitude towards change.”
Reasons why NOT to do research. These are all *Facepalm statements, let me tell you why with counterarguments
- No Money
- (Facepalm). Doing research can get you a better return on investment for what you spend if done properly. So no money is not much of an excuse.
- No Time
- (Double Facepalm). Research can be done very quickly. Even if it isn’t entirely comprehensive, any research will give you a unique leg up on any actionable item your communications team is working on.
- “We Already Know”
- (TRIPLE Facepalm). You may know, but research gives you the opportunity to quantify what you know, which will give you more description to find the subtleties in your knowledge. Plus, we’re human; you may not actually “know.”
- “This is Unique”
- (QUAD FACEPALM). This is when research is especially important and matters the most. A map allows a captain to sail through vast seas of nothingness. If you don’t have a descriptive map to guide you through ambiguity, then you’ll be lost.
Top Reasons for Research
- Reduce Management Uncertainty
- Identify New Opportunities
- Generate “New” Knowledge
Top Ways to Use Research FOR THE STRATEGIC COMMUNICATOR
- Research is a vital counseling tool.
- Research should not just measure public opinion or likeliness to buy. Research must be used to measure the total effects of the communications upon your audience universe to give you a complete understanding of how you’ve changed the mold.
- Research must provide detailed specifics. Just like a low vs. high resolution photo; the higher resolution you can gain, the sharper the result will be. More descriptive research will give you better leverage on how to inspire activation, reinforcement, and change across your audience.
Objectives for Research
- To Describe: Environment of decisions, characteristics of key publics
- To Predict: Behavior of key republics, reaction of key republics
- To Plan, To Measure: pre-test, evaluation, longitudinal.
Hierarchy of Research
Level Uno – Did You Communicate?
- How much reach did you obtain?
- Did you get their attention?
- More over, did they comprehend your message?
- Most importantly, does the audience recall what you told them?
Level Dos – Did you Make a Difference?
- How did your audiences attitudes and opinions on the matter change?
- Did you inspire behavioral change with your communications?
- How did your communications have a larger impact on the world?
These are fairly familiar, however still very important:
- Primary or Secondary?
- Quantitative or Qualitative?
- Formal or Informal?
These Approaches ar decided by:
- The Communications Team’s objectives
- What is at stake
- The complexity or sensitivity of the subject matter
- The credibility factor that your message must attain to.
Common Primary Research Methods
- Surveys (Great for Quantitative Data Acquisition)
- Personal Interviews
- Field Experiments
- Controlled Experiments
- Focus Groups (Great for Qualitative Data Acquisition)
Research is Tricky! Here’s how it can fool you:
- Sampling Errors
- Sampling administration errors
- Non-respondent error
- Flawed Instrument
- Interviewer bias
Quality Research is possible to be done in practical ways in any organization, no matter the size. The best direction to proceed when aquiring and doing research is to have a happy blend of qualitative and quantitative research, and the blend will be different for each occasion. Most importantly, remember that actionability matters; don’t wast your companies time, money, or even reputation acquiring research that doesn’t give you a clear and actionable result.
Measurement & Evaluation – How We Demonstrate Effectiveness… or it’s Absence.
The Truths of Today’s Expectations for Strategic Communicators
In the past, strategic communicators could work without providing a convincing argument that their actions worked without evidence of measurable results. Today, this is definitely not the case. You must measure everything that you can and prove that your actions resulted in a positive change in ROI, or you’ll be gone faster than you can say “but…” This isn’t picking on the strategic communicator, it’s just pulling it up to speed with the expectations of every other department in other staff functions. Measurable objectives allow:
- Executives to look at your claims with less suspicion and more likely to acquire their support.
- Practitioners to quantify the effectiveness of their campaigns, what worked and what didn’t, and evantually defend their budgets and justify increases.
Basic Steps of Evaluation
- Write program goals and objectives in measurable and observable terms.
- Determine the best way to gather evidence
- Use evaluation findings
- add to professional knowledge
Objectives need to be observable, measurable, and possibly time based. Here are a few examples:
- To increase brand awareness of our target universe 30% within the next 6 months.
- To contribute to increase in business results.
- To Increase consumer knowledge and recall surrounding the product/service.
The Evaluation Process: Basic Questions
- Was the program effective?
- Were their unintended or unexpected effects?
- Has the program been an efficient use of resources?
Evaluation and Methods
- Recognition- Aided Awareness – Do you remember this ad?
- Recall – Unaided awareness – Have you seen anything surrounding this brand lately?
- Images, perceptions, positions, characteristics. How did they change in the eyes of the consumer?
- Direction & strength of the consumers decisions prior to the communication.
State of Evaluation Competency
For Advertising, there have been standards for evaluation for a very long time and are relatively straight forward; reach, frequency, behavioral influence, etc.
For Public Relations, however, there has been no strong tradition of measurement and evaluation until 2010. In 2010 the Barcelona Principles were adopted, and that changed the whole ball game. I’ll cover them in the next lesson.
Measuring Public Relations – The Barcelona Principles (2010)
In 2010, the Barcelona Principles labeled 7 principles for measuring strategic communications efforts, most specifically Public Relations.
- The Importance of Goal Setting & Measurement
- Measuring the Effect on Outcomes is Preferred to Measuring Outputs.
- The Effect on Business Results Can and Should Be Measured Where Possible
- Media Measurement Requires Quantity and Quality
- Advertising Value Equivalents (AVE’s) are not the value of public relations
- Social Media Can and Should Be Measured
- Transparency and Replicability are Paramount to Sound Measurement
*Note: Due to a lack of time before my final at 4:40pm, I am going to expand on these later.
Arthur W. Page – Founder of Public Relations & Visionary
Page’s Principles of Public Relationship Management:
- Always Tell the Truth.
Let the public know what’s happening and provide an accurage picture of the company’s character, ideal and practices.
- Prove the Truth with action.
Public Perception of an organization is determined 90% of what it does, and 10% of what it says.
- Always listen to the customer.
Understand what the public wants and needs. Keep top decision makers informed on the publics reaction to company products, policies, and practices.
- Manage for tomorrow, not today.
Anticipate the public’s reaction to your actions. Eliminate practices that create difficulties & create good will.
- Conduct Public Relations as if the entire company depends on it.
No Corporate strategy should be implemented before it consideres it’s effects on the public. Corporate relations is a management function. The public relations professional is a policy maker capable of handling a wide range of corporate communication activities.
- Realize a company’s true character is expressed by firstly its employees and secondly consumers in which it serves.
The strongest opinions – good or bad – are shaped by it’s employees
Every Employee – old or new – is involved with public relations, and it’s the responsibility of corporate communications to support each employees capability and desire to be honest, knowledgable, and an ambassador to customers, friends, share owners and public officials.
- Remain calm, patient and good humored
Lay the groundwork for public relations miracles with consistent, calm, and reasoned attention to information and contacts. When a crisis arises, remember that cool heads communicate the best.
***UPDATE: The test went well! Minus one or two oddball questions I believe a good grade will come from it!