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Accountability No Longer Optional

11 Apr


In my last post, we discussed that one aspect of having a ‘seat at the table’ is that the public relations function needs to be more accountable for results.  While accountability may take several forms, at the most basic level it is about being responsible for ones actions and outcomes, i.e. did you/your organization do what you said you would do?  So how can we operationalize this concept in public relations?

We believe there are three fundamental opportunities for accountability across the public relations programming lifecycle: 


  1. Quantify Opportunity/Problem – At the time of assignment, the PR team applies a little Left Brain thinking and quantifies the magnitude of the problem or opportunity that PR will address.  This was discussed in a previous post.
  2. Solution Quantification – Once the programming is developed, but before it is approved and implemented, we should quantify the anticipated results for the program.  This step answers the question, “If we accept this proposal/plan, what results or value might we reasonably expect?”  It also sets up the third step… 
  3. Quantify Results – The third stage of the framework occurs post-implementation and is the traditional measurement and evaluation phase. 

The essence of accountability occurs when we compare the results we “promised” in stage 2 to the actual results measured in stage 3.  The real kicker here is stage 2, which we may call ‘Solution Quantification’.  PR professionals have long been reluctant to predict in any specific way how much coverage, for example, will occur as a result of a given program or campaign.  You may have heard this reluctance expressed as ‘PR is an art, not a science’.  Regardless of the merits of this argument, we cannot use it as an excuse not to be accountable.  Accountability is not easy.  It is essential however if the PR function is to maximize its potential impact on the organization.  –Don B