A study of evaluation research in two public relations firms
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] As more organizations employ public relations practitioners, evaluation research is needed to help practitioners prove their worth. Too often the evaluation step is skipped completely or only feeble attempts are made to prove program effectiveness. In this study, respondents from two public relations firms were interviewed to better understand how the barriers to evaluation research operate, and how one firm is able to overcome those barriers while the other has been less successful in overcoming those barriers. Firm 1 does not conduct formal evaluation research. Firm 2 does conduct formal research and employs a research director. The goal of this study was to develop further understanding of how barriers to public relations evaluation research can be overcome. Twelve total interviews were conducted with six respondents from each of the two public relations firms. Ethnography was used to examine firm award entries and planning guides at each firm to develop further understanding of the firm's research experience and philosophy. Time and budget barriers were the most prominent barriers to evaluation research, however, workplace culture and fear of the results both played an important role in the amount of evaluation research conducted. Workplace culture also operates as a key to overcoming other barriers to evaluation research. The size of the firm also appeared to impact the amount of evaluation research conducted. Determining how and why one public relations firm is able to overcome barriers to evaluation research will help other practitioners better understand how barriers to evaluation research may be overcome.
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