The way to know if you’ve achieved success in public relations is through the process of measuring or evaluating the outcome of a PR campaign’s goals and objectives. Goals and objectives must be clearly defined in the beginning stages of campaign planning.  If they are not clearly defined the evaluation process will be impossible to gauge.  By gathering data through magazine and news clippings, surveys, social media analytics and other systemic tracking tools both before and after a campaign, the effectiveness of a PR program can be measured to justify budget expenses and overall success. (Anderson 2008)

According to Don W. Stacks, author of Primer of Public Relations Research, 2nd Ed., there are three stages of measuring campaign outcome.  In the developmental stage, a baseline is established to allow for final evaluation.  Who is the target audience?  What behavior does it seek for the target audience to become aware of and change?  Has action been effectuated?  The refinement stage occurs during the campaign relying on feedback that can be used to make tactical changes to the campaign if necessary.  The evaluation stage is the process that takes place at the end of the campaign, before it is over.  The evaluation stage is the time when measures of the campaign outcome are correlated with business outcomes and the return on investment can be established and analyzed.  (Stacks 2010)

Public relations evaluation is synonymous with investment.  The “bottom line” is extremely important to businesses, so to be able to show the value in a public relations campaign is  extremely important.

Anderson, F.W,. (2008). How to Evaluate Public Relations. Retrieved from

Michaelson, D., & Stacks, D. W. (2011). Standardization in public relations measurement and evaluation. Public Relations Journal, 5, 7-8.

Michaelson, D., Wright, D.K., & Stacks, D.W. (2012). Evaluating Efficacy in Public Relations/Corporate Communication Programming: Towards Establishing Standards of Campaign Performance. Public Relations Journal, 6 No. 5

Stacks D. W. (2010). Primer of Public Relations Research, 2nd ed. New York: Guilford.