This paper is meant to analyze the role evaluation in media relations campaigns. It is an evaluation of media campaign with specific focus on the campaign done by Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA), an Australia-based NGO working on the online liberties and rights of all Internet users. Its campaign is entitled “Generation Z”, that is teenagers between the ages of thirteen and eighteen years. The campaign’s overall intention is to create an
impression of personal responsibility among members of the target group by inculcating a sense of discipline. It is also meant to inform Generation Z about the disadvantages of irresponsible use of the internet then inverse their awareness in utilizing Internet content. In order to achieve the campaign objective, it is necessary to involve parents in the process. Parents need to be involved in the process of monitoring their children’s internet use and also by teaching them how to use the internet in the most appropriate way.
The campaign aims at creating appropriate communication channels for this target population so that they can adequately develop desirable internet communication plans of action. This campaign will be an opposition to government policy because it will be different from that of the government policy which advocates for internet control through external rather than internal mechanisms. Communication practitioners focus a great deal on the best ways to deliver communication strategies that are able to bring about wider awareness of the clients that they serve.
Need for public relation services by the industry means that these public relation firms are always evaluating their approaches towards communication strategies that are prescribed for the industry. Crystal (2003) argues that, “Public relations provide a service for an organization by helping it provide clients better information of their functions.
” Within organizations, public relations can also be viewed from the perspective of Public Information or Customer Relations (Paul 2008), “these departments help clients in answering queries, complaints, or problems that might arise in their relationship with the organization. They are usually the most helpful departments, as they exist to show the organization at their best. ” The EFA campaign will use a comprehensive method and strategy to ensure success of the campaign. This will be achieved through public relations and media relations principles.
Good media relations will be build through gaining appropriate insight of the media by devising ways through which appropriate relationships can be build. Furthermore, the firm has relevant information regarding internet filtering accessed through substantive internet user support from the public; hence this will be a big advantage to the campaign. Use of persuasive theories will also offer the much needed support and attention to the campaign. Generally, evaluation can be seen as the systematic application of research methods, to understand the effectiveness and usefulness of interventions.
Evaluation determines the effectiveness of a programme in terms achieving goals that have been set up and the effectiveness of those goals. Evaluation therefore is a means of measurement that is meant to assess the level of success of a communication strategy. Evaluation determines the level to which a campaign has reached its goals and also helps organizations and individuals to understand how a particular campaign worked, it is therefore a tool for determining success of interventions towards a particular campaign.
Evaluation should “specify explicitly the goals and objectives,” (Ronald 2000) of a particular campaign because this is what clients will use to measure the success of communication strategies and campaigns that are targeted to a particular case. When evaluating or measuring a particular strategy, there is need to put into consideration the outputs in terms of time to be taken and the budget needed. In addition, there is need for prioritization of the needs and what they are benchmarked against. Moreover, tools of evaluation may vary depending on the type of campaign and the targeted audience.
There are various methods of media relations evaluations that are currently used in the Public Relations Industry. Some of these methods can be applied to the (EFA) campaign. One method of evaluation is the use of Advertising Value Equivalence (AVE). Michaelson and Griffin (2005), posits that it is “the approximate calculation of the cost of value of a purchase of advertising that has a size and location in a given publication on a specific day” However, they content that this method has characteristic pitfalls and has therefore fallen out of favour by public relation practitioners.
Another method of evaluation is the simple content analysis which is “An elemental analysis that categorizes or codes what is written in categories that can be statistically analyzed. The codes are developed by a close contextual review of a sample of articles. The remaining articles are reviewed based on the presence of these codes. This method only distinctively represents only what is written. expectedmessages or specific items of information that are not included in the codes or do not appear in the articles are not included in the analysis” (Michaelson and Griffin 2005).
Prominence analysis is also another method of evaluation and was also applied to the EFA research in evaluating internet use. This analysis takes into account such factors as the publication an article appears, the date, overall size, presence of photography and other art work and size of headlines. Therefore, in a “sample prominence analysis, each element is given a weight that is factored into an overall score for each article” (Stanton 2007).
The EFA research basically tried to evaluate the consequences and impacts of the internet through the analysis of clicking rates of links and blog. Evaluation can also be carried out through message analysis, which differs from simple and content analysis by placing the analysis on the presence of intended messages in articles. “Key messages are developed based on communication objectives” (Michaelson and Griffin 2005). The communicative objectives are “translated” into codes that become the basis of analysis.
Michaelson and Griffin suggest that the best method in evaluation is to determine the availability of key parameters in the organization that are to be measured and evaluated these parameters are “right information, incorrect information, misleading and contradicting information and information that has been left out. ” This information was used to give an example of how one company; MetLife used this analysis to manage its media relations efforts on two key lines of business.
As part of a national education plan to promote annuities, MetLife identified the media as a paramount passage of its messages to consumers. MetLife decided to determine the degree to which correct, incorrect and only partially correct information is included in new stories about annuities. The analysis enabled MetLife to make an association between the degree and length covered by the media when it comes to annuities and the clients’ understanding of the more than thirty years they will likely live in retirement.
Through analysis of the kind of information in terms of their correctness or lack of , clients are able to comprehend the type of retirement plans they could choose from those available at MetLife; and made the company to be aware of the directions it needed to take as far as selling annuities was concerned. Evaluation research normally has three phases, that is, formative, process and summative. “The formative phase involves all activities that define the extent of the campaign” (Payne 2007).
It is in this phase where the range of the problem is ascertained, data is collected regarding mediating strategies; and also provides additional illumination regarding the people being targeted by the mediation, budgetary estimates and the constraints to the full attainment of the mission as set by the problem. Focus is on basic research through focus groups and inquiries which provide opinions and attitudes that can inform campaign development. The formative phase serves as the basis for direction and also sets out the budget to be used in the research campaign.
It is therefore an initial process that can also be used to analyze and get insights into the audience’s values, fears and their perceptions. In the EFA campaign, formative phase was applied in the identification of the target group that is youths between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. It also involved understanding the current internet use habits among the youths whereby the official system has been seen as being unable to safeguard the safety of these youths (Paul & Dylan 2003).
The process phase in evaluative research has to do with keeping track of the extent to which the objectives are being achieved. Shapiro (1996) defines monitoring as the “methodical Compilation and assay of information as projected progresses. ” It is based on projections set during the formative phase. The process phase involves collection of data, time taken to carry out the campaign and the trailing classification that is employed. Monitoring occurs mainly to keep track of activities and correct any shortcomings
that may arise (Edward 1945). It generally involves keeping a diary of events. Monitoring of progress of the EFA campaign will involve building media relationships through the press or media releases by creating series of professional news or feature articles. The process phase will include launch of social workshops with the aim of accessing the attention of journalists and also establish linkages with groups in the information sector that have showed concern over the EFA issue.
Use of directional tactics to provide one-way flow of information and comprehensive reports to interested parties is meant to bear and achieve more support from these audiences. Other ways will be through organization of meeting among community members, visiting local schools to give speeches and use of focused groups to brainstorm on the issue. The end results of the process phase are that people would have internalized the issue at hand and thus raising the success rate of the campaign. The summative phase involves quantification of the success of goals and objectives whereby
collected quantitative data is analyzed. It also involves content analysis of the measuring characteristics of the messages. Generally, the summative phase involves propagating and demonstration of the verdict of the campaign process. It involves “media responses based on readership, calculation of column centimeters in print media or minutes on air” (Salin 2003). The objectives of the EFA campaign were to train parents of Generation Z on safe internet use, as well as the negative influences on their children whenever they accept the unfitting information from websites.
They are considered as the target stakeholder group in this campaign, and are the most important source of support in cultivating their children’s habit. Other objectives included the need to increase Generation Z’s awareness in utilizing Internet content and also to counter the oppression of free speech by educating the community about the social, political, and civil liberties concerns involved in the use of computer based communication systems. The outcomes of this campaign are generally to provide more protection to young children from accessing internet sources that are harmful to them.
On the issue of training parents on safe internet use, the outcome was that many parents were advised and showed ways through which they could put more productive security and consciousness that is necessary in minimizing access to these sites by the generation “Z” youths. This campaign was able to shed light on the extent to which generations “Z” youths are using the internet to access harmful sites that is now a major cause of concern. It was also noted that most parents did not use internet filters to restrain their children.
Hence the numerous campaigns that EFA had launched regarding filtering had not been so successful. The “issue of forcing internet service providers to block content did not only fail to achieve its intended purpose, but also raised fundamental issues regarding human rights violation of the citizens” (Greenfield 1999). Furthermore, the outcome of the campaign showed that only a handful parents utilized the filtering system, while a majority of them assumed that their children would be able to select the websites that were of importance to their development.
Moreover the cost of implementing the filtration system was found to be too high hence way above the majority of most parents. Planning and implementation of this programme started with the coming up with the appropriate secondary analysis of the media and preparation of a budget that was to address the issue of brochures and advertisements. The realization timetable occurred over a period of twelve weeks and it involved various actions which included writing letters to the press, designing the advertisements in the media and writing online.
All these implementing strategies were done with the focus of providing “consistent and orderly evaluations of these interventions” (Greenfield 1999). The results of these interventions in creating are varied within the context of trying to get information regarding the topic. A significant number of teenagers were able to release feature stories on the campaign. Circulation and readership of these magazines was also increased. Implementation also focused on the parents the teenagers, because they are the closest people who can check and control internet use by their children.
Parents were able to give information that was used in the development of the advertisement of briefs and variations in opinions, and the public that was needed. With changing technological renovations, then it means that people should always be informed on the current changes in technology. The campaign to filter websites cannot be said to be a very effective means to control the generation “Z” youths. In terms of future campaigns, there should be emphasize on the peer group relationship and the use of the internet by the young people.
Campaigns should also focus on other avenues that can be used as a substitution to the internet and public education on harmful consequences of teenagers having unlimited accesses to all sites on the web (Austin 2006). CONCLUSION The importance of evaluation in a communication strategy cannot be over emphasized. Communication strategies need to reflect the overall goals and objectives of the organization so as to bring about a continuum of order and efficiency. The role of campaigns in putting across pertinent issues with regards to communication will be effective through proper utilization of evaluation tools.
Public relations agencies have to put up relevant and strong communication strategies that should address the needs of clients. Evaluation process leads to better understanding of the potential outcomes and the costs versus benefits that might accrue as a result of using a particular campaign strategy.
Austin, E 2006, Strategic public relations management: Planning and Managing Effective Communication, Bellman Publishing Company, Boston. Edward, B 1945, Public Relations in Business, Bellman, Boston.
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