First, let me admit that I am a measurement geek. Since most of my career I have worked for non-profits and associations, I have always been a fan of anything free, especially when it comes to measurement. While most small companies and non-profits think they can't afford measurement, with today's free and low-cost tools like Survey Monkey and Zoomerang, it just isn't the case.
A recent article by Forrest Anderson, outlines the importance of measuring relationships. He and an agency partner used a simple methodology laid out by Jim Grunig and Linda Childers Hon in 1999 to help organizations evaluate their stakeholder relationships.
in 1999 published a paper with the Institute for Public Relations on how to evaluate relationships. One of their premises is that the real business of public relations is managing relationships.
The client, which was National Governing Board (NGB) for a U.S. Olympic sport, gave a standing ovation when they presented their results. But better yet, Anderson was able to give specific recommendations to improve these relationships based on the study.
I was surprised by how sensitive this technique is. Not only did it tell me the relationship was weak, but it told me how.
They measured for six factors:
- Control Mutuality — The degree to which parties agree on who has the rightful power to influence one another.
- Trust — One party’s level of confidence in and willingness to open oneself to the other party.
- Satisfaction — The extent to which each party feels favorably toward the other because positive expectations about the relationship are reinforced.
- Commitment — The extent to which each party believes and feels that the relationship is worth spending energy to maintain and promote.
- Exchange Relationship — In an exchange relationship, one party gives benefits to the other only because the other has provided benefits in the past or is expected to do so in the future.
- Communal Relationship — In a communal relationship, both parties provide benefits to the other because they are concerned for the welfare of the other — even when they get nothing in return.
Better yet, the paper has a list of questions that work to get at each of these measures. It's as easy as picking the questions, finding a suitable sample and sending out a survey on one of the inexpensive platforms I mentioned before.
The Role for Public Relations
I particularly liked this nugget from Grunig and Hon that lays out the role for today's modern public relations professional, and it goes well beyond the role of mouthpiece or publicity
Public relations makes an organization more effective…when it identifies the most strategic publics…and conducts communication programs to develop and maintain effective long-term relationships
between management and those publics.
As an important aside, Katie has also just released a free pdf copy of her book, Measuring Public Relationships, which will be published soon. So, if you love measurement of PR, or you just want to get better at it, download her book.
So what do you think of this method of measuring relationships, and do you think that the main role of PR should be to develop and nurture these relationships.