Thursday, November 15, 2007

The objective of favourability


The discipline of media evaluation has over the years found it hard to dodge the accusation of subjectivity. I have noticed that when executing research using the accepted forms of best practice it is never possible to make the process completely objective.

I have also noticed over the years that media research often returns to the core disciplines of the measurement of tone and the spotting of key messages. When it comes to establishing favourability there is always the possibility of some sort of ‘unfair’ bias.

There are ways to give the research rigour including proportional analysis, headline bias, other branding traits and potency of the wording. The default categories have tended to be ‘positive’, ‘neutral’ and ‘negative’, although it is possible to feel slightly uneasy about what the actual difference is between a neutral and positive item, for example.

If an article mentions an organisation by name is there some value to that, or should it just be classed as neutral? This could be resolved by introducing the categories of ‘slightly positive’ and, ‘wholly positive’ however there seems to a lack of research to support one categorisation over another. I strongley feel PR measurement would benefit from some form of discussion on this area.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Is it time to out the 'Outs'?

The traditional method of measuring PR (pioneered by Dr Walt Lindenmann) was via the measures of Output, Out-take and Outcome. They have been widely covered in academic journals and used as a method of categorising response measurement. Dr Tom Watson in DummySpit outlines their use in this useful review. But there seems to be a problem as the ‘Outs’ are often misused and I think it is fair to say, poorly understood by practitioners.

So in response a couple of alternatives have been pitched. Dan Bartholomew suggests the Exposure, Influence and Action categories, while Jim Nail suggests Media Influence, Media Audience and Business Influence. They both undoubtedly have their merits and while I think they could be accused of introducing more jargon, discussion on this issue is healthy, particularly if it engages view from the wider PR community rather than from just within the measurement community.

Personally I prefer Dan Bartholomews option but as this is very early days much more information and practical application and testing needs to be done. And of course if a new option is to be adopted it needs to be much better than the existing.