Advancing communications measurement and evaluation

GAP VII Study Reveals PR Excellence and Best Practices: From Old School to New School

GAP VIIThe USC Annenberg Strategic Communication and Public Relations Center has published its seventh biennial Communication and Public Relations Generally Accepted Practices (GAP VII) study. This year’s report is the largest and most comprehensive study of the most senior communicators in public and private corporations, government agencies and non-profits in the United States.

The survey provides practitioners with practical information they can use to better manage the communication functions in their organizations; identifies Best Practices against which they can benchmark their own organizations; and pinpoints trends to be aware of as they plan for tomorrow.

Read about it here. Download it here.

Important results for public relations measurement include:

Old School PR vs. New School PR:

Old School
• Measurement of media outputs
• Believe PR focus is on media relations
• Does not believe social media are pervasive
• Reactive/Short-term
• Worried about control
• Consider media relations the dominating discipline of PR
New School
• Measurement of outcomes
• Assign primary responsibility for social media to PR
• Long-term strategic direction
• Embrace multiplying touchpoints, pervasiveness of social media – still with modicum of control
• More likely to believe recommendations are taken seriously

Excellence and Best Practices – Key Insights for Success
The GAP VII findings confirm a set of best practices that were identified in previous GAP studies and are all strongly associated with success variables. Patterns are very compelling and long-lived over multiple GAP studies.

  • Integration:
    Champion intra-functional and inter-functional integration and coordination.
  • Measurement/Evaluation:
    Invest at least the average percentage (9%) of total budget in measurement and evaluation; focus investment on metrics other than media outputs.
  • Culture/Character:
    Beginning within the PR/Comm function, champion the adoption of a culture or character that is proactive, long-term, strategic, flexible, ethical, and people-first.
  • Agency Relationships:
    Optimize strategic value over mainly tactical use.
  • Reporting Line:
    Assure that PR/Comm has the most effective reporting line, given the nature and structure of the entire organization. In most cases this will be a direct reporting line to the C-Suite. Be part of the Dominant Coalition. –KDP


Katie Delahaye Paine is CEO of KDPaine & Partners, a company that delivers custom research to measure brand image, public relationships, and engagement. Katie Paine is a dynamic and experienced speaker on public relations and social media measurement. Click here for the schedule of Katie’s upcoming speaking engagements. Katie and Beth Kanter are authors of the book “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit,” to be published this year by Wiley.

Bill Paarlberg
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Bill Paarlberg

Bill Paarlberg co-founded The Measurement Standard in 2002 and was its editor until July 2017. He also edits The Measurement Advisor newsletter. He is editor of the award-winning "Measuring the Networked Nonprofit" by Beth Kanter and Katie Paine, and editor of two other books on measurement by Katie Paine, "Measure What Matters" and "Measuring Public Relationships." Visit Bill Paarlberg's page on LinkedIn.
Bill Paarlberg
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