Some criteria for benchmarking are highlighted by the an article
"Evaluating Marketing Agencies" by Susanne Bell, Barrett Dixon Bell
It seems to go beyond the analysis of press articles, and use
'measurement' techniques in the form of measurable statistics. (some
'Return On Investment' is one benchmark from the paragraph
"Advocating Accountability" giving concrete evidence of PR activity.
The paragraph "Table 1: Marketing methods and their evaluations"
Gives the following information:
*Cost per enquiry / response
- Can be used only in certain cases, where enquiries go directly to
*Pre- and post- awareness
- Requires qualitative research, preferably undertaken by a third
party, which will have cost implications.
Advertising value equivalent (AVE)
- A tool falling out of favor, as advertising and PR perform different
tasks and are therefore not comparable.
*Opportunities to see (OTS)
- A basic evaluation method, gives a quick indication of the
penetration of the press and how this develops over time.
*Key message mentions
- Analyzes how well the press has picked up the specific messages the
pharma firm wanted to convey. Key messages should be defined at the
outset so they are built into all communications work.
Number of articles/column inches printed
- Of dubious value, as five inches of positive and informative
coverage is worth far more than 10 inches of disapproval or
- Weighs up coverage against competitors, but unless knowledge is held
on their marketing budgets and objectives, of limited value.
*Slant (positive vs negative)
- Helps to gauge likely public opinion and identify areas which need
to be addressed.
- Subjective, but good layout (compared to surrounding pages) and
position can increase visibility and therefore number of readers.
- Enables detailed analysis of which markets are being exposed to
*Pre- and post- awareness studies
- Requires qualitative research, preferably undertaken by a third
party, which will have cost implications. PR does not normally
increase awareness levels immediately a sustained campaign is more
Number of visitors to stand
- As % of total visitors (which should be provided by the organizers
afterwards) or as % of target visitors. If mailings have been sent,
number of responses to invitations. Can also be used to chart
developments over time.
Press coverage (pre- and post-)
- Will measure the press excitement about the companys presence.
Particularly useful if new products have been shown. On-stand editor
interviews and meetings will vastly increase the likelihood of being
included in a review.
*Number of enquiries
- Absolute and as % of visitors. Quality of visitor and enquiry can
differ, so qualitative evaluation of enquiries should be undertaken
*Number of hits
- Should be independently audited. Is an absolute figure but can be
used to track traffic development.
Number of requests for info
- Can be seen as sales leads, and then % converted.
*Unique visitors per month
- Tracks development of visitor numbers, but more details on their
qualification and interest would be more meaningful.
Length of session
- Assesses stickiness of site, interest, ease of use. Will also
indicate if visitors are reaching it unintentionally.
> Direct mail:
- Indicates the areas of most interest to visitors, allowing
improvements / expansion.
Cost per 1000 sent
- Does not evaluate responses.
*% response rate
- The DMA cites response rates between 1 and 4%, but many variables
impact this, such as complex entry qualification, time of year, etc.
It recommends testing the offer first.
Cost per response
- Gives a firm cost per lead, but again responses should be qualified.
- Subjective, but may be useful for comparing with competitive mail
(from any source).
*Qualitative research among delegates
- Must be carefully planneddelegates are unlikely to spend long
discussing a seminar at the end of the last day, but should be
conducted when the event is still fresh in mind.
Coverage in trade press
- Solicited vs unsolicited. Were editors invited to the event?
Qualitative analysis should be undertaken as for normal PR activity."
Majid Khoury President of marketexplorers summarizes
"1. Evaluate among the communication target only.
..It is very important that your evaluation program is conducted with
the communication target, as opposed to the public at large. If your
advertising target is adults 35 years or older with a household income
over $60,000, living in urban centres, do not conduct your evaluation
program with the general population 18 years and older...
2. Evaluate against your communication objectives.
It is essential that to evaluate marketing communications programs
against their objectives. Be careful not to simplify the process by
conducting evaluation surveys with five or six questions focusing only
on awareness of communication vehicles. While important, high
awareness of communication vehicles does not necessarily translate
into effective communication.
An effective marketing communications evaluation must be comprehensive
and include measurement of
a. breakthrough of the activities - is the target noticing the
b. message communication - what messages are coming across, and is the
target understanding the communicated proposition? and
c. communication impact - is the communication achieving its
objectives of increasing awareness, building brand, motivating
involvement, and/or shifting attitudes?
3. Consider continuous evaluation during your communication program.
Most evaluation of marketing communication programs consist of what
the industry calls pre-post studies measurement taken before launch,
then again at the end of the campaign. If the numbers shift, the
thinking goes, then your campaign was successful. If the numbers do
not shift, your campaign is a failure.
But in todays increasingly complex communication environment in which
media are fragmented and competitors react immediately, the "pre-post"
model is proving ineffective. It doesnt tell you why the numbers
moved (or did not move) at the end of the program.
More sophisticated communicators are now using continuous evaluations
that track program impact on an ongoing basis in parallel with the
communications activities. The benefits of this approach could fill
another article but for now, consider these two benefits of continuous
1. You will learn how the different components of your communication
program are working in tandem. (e.g., did awareness shift when you
launched the advertising or did awareness start to move when you
addede your direct mail campaign? a question the pre-post model
2. You will learn whether your communications impact is hindered by
competitive reaction (e.g., your campaign could be performing
exceptionally well until a competitor reacts aggressively, depressing
your campaign impact again, this cannot be depicted in a pre-post
4. Choose the right time to evaluate
...Review your communication activities and decide when they have had
sufficient exposure to generate impact. For example, conclusive
evidence of advertising breakthrough cannot be achieved before a
minimum of 800 GRPs if the campaign includes broadcast media.
Also, if your campaign objective is to shift attitudes, and you have,
for example, four bursts of communication activities in a year, wait
till the end of the program before evaluating it since it takes time
and repeated exposure for attitude shifts to materialize.
5. Incorporate the effect of media activities in your evaluation.
...For example, how many media dollars were required to shift
awareness by 20%? Is this level of spending worth the generated
impact? Did your media mix work effectively or was there media waste?
There are varied norms and indices for this analysis.
6. Include competitive and/or environmental changes in your
..."Likelihood to purchase", for example, is driven by competitive
market activities and communication. You cannot ignore building
competitive activities into your evaluation program.
Even if you are dealing with social marketing, government
communication or a monopolistic situation, it is still impossible to
evaluate your communication program in a vacuum. Economic,
technological, environmental and social changes are definitely
affecting the impact of your program, and these changes need to be
incorporated in your analysis.
7. Define "success" early
...with an advertising campaign you can easily double awareness of an
organization that has never had any marketing communication and now
has low levels of awareness. But the same advertising campaign will
not double awareness of an organization that has been around for a
while and already enjoys a relatively high level of awareness.
Attitude shifts are slow and minimal; sometimes a 10% change in
attitude is all you can achieve after one year of marketing
The benefits of this exercise are a realistic evaluation of programs;
avoiding a set-up for failure due to over-estimating impact;...
8. Analyze your results: what do the numbers really mean?
Excerpt from "Evaluating Your Marketing Communications" by Majid
Khoury, PR Canada 2002
"In an article in Marketing Communications Journal, 2001 titled
Public Relations and evaluation: does the reality match the rhetoric?
author/professor Anne Gregory examined the most well-known evaluation
models and proposed a new model based on her research. She spent time
looking at the current methods of evaluation, and evaluating the
entrants from major public relations awards to see where practitioners
are currently focusing their evaluation efforts...
PII Model Preparation, Implementation and Impact Model
This model, taken from Effective Public Relations, 8th edition (2000)
by Cutlip, Center and Broom, states that each stage of this model will
help practitioners understand and accumulate information that helps to
make judgements on effectiveness. Stage 1 evaluates information
gathering and strategic planning; Stage 2 evaluates tactics and public
relations efforts; and Stage 3 evaluates outcomes. This model doesnt
provide a specific methodology; instead it makes allowances for all
the variances in each program, campaign and organization.
Lindenmanns Two Step Approach
W.K. Lindenmanns article published in Public Relations Quarterly
(1993) on effectiveness yardsticks to measure public relations success
is the foundation for his two-step approach. Step 1: Setting
measurable program objectives. Step 2: Measuring the achievement of
those objectives against three levels of effectiveness. Level 1
measures outputs from the public relations efforts. Level 2 focuses on
the outgrowths and measures the cognitive processes of the target
publics. Level 3 measures outcomes or program effects.
Public Relations Awards Research
A major part of Gregorys research was based on evaluations of
entrants for public relations awards held in Britain - the Institute
of Public Relations Excellence Awards, the Public Relations
Consultants Association Outstanding Consultancy Practice Awards and PR
Week Public Relations Awards.
The majority of entrants measured their results in four main ways:
impact, output, out-take and process.
1. Measured awareness, attitude and behaviour changes. Included
substantiated and systematic results such as surveys and focus group
2. Achievement of specific desired effects such as
fundraising/sponsorship obtained, desired lobbying results,
endorsements achieved, etc.
1. Media coverage- successful placements, number and type of media
2. Message coverage successful placement of specific messages
3. Reach the number of people receiving the communication via the
4. Financial measures of media coverage, specifically advertising
5. Media demand when media pro-actively responded to the material
1. Attendance or participation in events or by entering a competition
2. Pro-active demand for program output by requesting materials
3. Web site hits
1. Cost effectiveness measured by terms of being under budget or
cost-effective for the money spent.
2. Increased budget or extension/expansion of the campaign
3. Recognition of the campaign through awards, such as an internal
best practice award."
Excerpt from "Evaluating PR How Do You Make Your Mark?" by Heather
Kernahan-Kenney PR Canada 2002
Institute for Public Relations
The Commission on Public Relations Measurement & Evaluation is an
initiative of IPR, the only independent foundation in the public
relations field. Located on the campus of the University of Florida,
IPR sponsors research, competitions, awards, lectures & publications -
all dedicated to improving the professional practice of public
relations around the world."
This resource "Measurement & Evaluation"
outlines various benchmarking techniques:
- Measurement Tree
- Measurement Theoryand Scaling Technique
- Performance Measurement:
Can PR/Communication Contribute to the New Bottom Line of Intangible,
by Fraser Likely
- Communication and PR: Made to Measure
by Fraser Likely
- Public Relations Research for Planning and Evaluation
Resource Booklet Prepared By Walter K. Lindenmann, Ph.D.
- Toward an Understanding of How News Coverage and Advertising
Coverage and Advertising Impact Consumer Perceptions, Attitudes and
by Bruce Jeffries-Fox
- Selling PR Research Internally:
Changing the Mindset about Communications
by Lisa Richter and Walter G. Barlow
- Fun things to do with measurement
by Katharine D. Paine, president, Delahaye Medialink
- Guidelines for Formative and Evaluative Research in Public Affairs
by James E. Grunig and Larissa A. Grunig
- Measuring Public Relations Effectiveness For
The Dole Food Company and the Society for Nutrition Education
by Dr. Walter K. Lindenmann
- Setting Measureable Public Relations Objectives
by Forrest W. Anderson and Linda Hadley
- Guidelines and Standards for Measuring and Evaluating PR
by Dr. Walter K. Lindenmann
Advice to implement a more successful PR campaign:
"High-Tech Public Relations" By Susan Trainer, Trainerpr.com 2002
"PUBLIC RELATIONS: A CORE COMPONENT TO A SUCCESSFUL MARKETING LAUNCH"
by Kelly Senecal, Public Relations, MarketSpring
Holmes Report Knowledge Archive of case studies (web articles and
"Research and Evaluation" resources, Public Relations Society of
evaluating successful results pr activities
benchmarking successful results pr activities
implementing successful PR campaigns
I hope that helps, if you need any clarification, just ask.