Can we learn from our mistakes?

One of the toughest things about PR planning is setting objectives against which a campaign or ongoing initiative can be measured.  It’s easy to devise the strategies, come up with great tactics and execute them. But how do we know if we are successful if we have no measurement standards in place? 

Beth Harte published a great post on the topic of measuring the ROI of social media; and this article addresses the mechanics of setting PR objectives. In fact, there’s an abundance of information available on setting PR objectives: a Google search on the topic returns over 8.5M results. So rather than re-hash what’s already been written, I want to focus on post execution evaluation. It’s an important step that can help us long after we measure the success of a campaign, yet it’s one which many of us in PR forget about.

If we’ve taken the time to set objectives, we are going to go back and compare those objectives to actual results (I would hope!). But   how many of us evaluate our actual performance?  Was our execution flawless? Did we learn anything new? How would we do things differently next time around? Which tactics could have been avoided? Could we cut down on costs?  Should more budget have been allocated to one area and less to another? What could we have done to blow our success metrics out the water? You get the picture.

My career in PR began almost 20 years ago, but that doesn’t mean I know everything there is to know about PR. Even I can learn from mistakes that have been made along the way, but only if I go back and do a reality check and evaluate my performance.

On a side note, I decided to pull out the old South African Handbook of Public Relations that I used when I first studied PR. And wouldn’t you know it, the idea of feedback and evaluation is even in there. So we know it’s not a novel concept, but perhaps one that more of us need to take the time to do.

~Jodi Echakowitz (Twitter: JodiEchakowitz)

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