Breaking the measurement and evaluation deadlock: a new approach and model

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Communication Management, 2015, 19 (4), pp. 371 - 387
Issue Date:
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© 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Purpose – Noting findings by Michaelson and Stacks in the USA and Zerfass and colleagues in Europe that research-based measurement and evaluation (M&E) of public relations and corporate communication are still not widely applied despite more than a century of discussion and intense focus since the 1970s, the purpose of this paper is to explore the causes of this deadlock and presents an alternative approach and model to overcome identified obstacles and provide new insights to advance this important area of theory and practice. Design/methodology/approach – This paper is informed by critical analysis of the large body of literature on M&E, analysis of M&E reports, and ethnographic research among senior management. Findings – This analysis reveals that, along with long-cited barriers such as lack of budget, lack of knowledge and lack of standards, three other obstacles prevent demonstration of the value of PR and corporate communication. Based on critical analysis of literature and M&E reports and ethnography, this paper presents a new approach and model for M&E to help practitioners overcome these obstacles. Research limitations/implications – This analysis and the approach and model presented address an area of concern identified in research globally, such as a 2008 Delphi study by Watson and the European Communication Monitor in 2011 and 2012. The findings provide theoretical and practical contributions to address the deadlock between normative theories of M&E and practical implementation. Originality/value – The approach and M&E model presented make a significant original contribution to theory and practice.
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