One of the great myths about public relations is that measuring our results is difficult at best. The root of the myth is the misunderstanding that the primary result of PR activities is the publicity we generate. While publicity can be important, it is most valuable when aligned with your organization’s strategies and business goals.

Organizations can and should hold their public relations programs accountable for achieving clearly defined and measurable objectives that matter.

In many cases, the same measurements that are used to examine advertising effectiveness can be used to measure the effectiveness of PR. Public relations results usually fall into one of three categories: education, persuasion and behavior.

Education: Public relations can call attention to an organization, issue, product or service. If an organization hasn’t clearly defined itself, PR can help.

Persuasion: Once a baseline of awareness is established, public relations can strengthen or change opinions about an organization, issue, product or service.

Behavior: Public relations is a terrific way to engage your publics to take action. That can mean registering on your Web site, calling a toll-free number or writing a letter to their Congressman.

When planning a public relations program, match these three categories to your organizational objectives. At DPK Public Relations, we often work backward, asking what action you want to encourage, what will your publics need to believe before they take that action, and what will your publics need to know before they believe this?

With this approach, it’s simple to measure PRs effectiveness. For instance, a survey can measure awareness. Surveys, focus groups and interviews can reveal what your publics believe and how strongly they believe it. Behavior is best measured through data that your organization may already collect, such as number and quality of inquiries, brand trial and sales volume.