Evaluating how well a communication strategy achieved its goals and objectives is a vital part of professional practice. This is not always done comprehensively, and evaluation often relies on assessing outputs rather than outcomes. Research has shown that practitioners often rely on media-centric output measurements rather than outcome data that shows the extent which target public received, understood and acted on messages they received during a campaign.
Formal evaluations, or summative research, have never been easy for practitioners, sometimes because of a lack of funds, sometimes because they don’t have a model to guide them, and sometimes because clients do not ask for evaluations. The chapter presents practical ways of evaluating a strategy and suggestions on methodology for doing this.
An evaluation should demonstrate how goals and objectives were achieved: did they meet the planned outcomes set out in the objectives, and the outputs that were needed to help in this? It should also assess whether messages, communication pathways and tools worked.
A warning on using advertising value equivalents (AVEs) in a strategic communication evaluation is included in the chapter. This is because AVEs prove nothing other than the cost of media space and time and using them borders on being unethical.
After finishing the chapter, students will recognise the importance of effective evaluations of strategic communication projects.