Reviewing the ‘march to standards’ in public relations: a comparative analysis of four seminal measurement and evaluation initiatives

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Journal Article
Public Relations Review, 2019, 45 (4)
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© 2019 The Authors To many, development and adoption of professional standards for measurement and evaluation (M&E) is one of the most promising approaches for advancing public relations practice. In recent years, there has been a surge in efforts to develop standards for M&E in different parts of the world. Prominent examples of this include standard terminologies, metrics, principles for best practice in the field, and evaluation frameworks. Regardless of their alleged importance, however, the acceptance and application of such M&E standards in the practice varies significantly. To better understand the process by which standards in this field are developed and adopted, this article draws on recent concepts from organization studies (cf. Slager, Gond, & Moon, 2012) to analyze the trajectories of four seminal standards attempts: The Barcelona Principles and the AMEC Integrated Evaluation Framework on an international level, the DPRG/ICV Framework used in German-speaking countries, and the GCS Framework in the United Kingdom. The article reveals, by way of an interpretive qualitative approach, the various strategies undertaken to a) develop common sets of terms and rules, b) engage relevant actors in the design, promotion, and implementation of proposed standards, and c) to reinforcing standards symbolically.
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