According to Denny Grisworld “Public Relations is the management function, which evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an individual or an organization with the public interest and executes a programme of action to earn understanding and acceptance”.
P.R deals with the publics (internal and external) by implementing a planned programme and counseling the management on what the publics says about an organization. One cannot do all these without evaluation. P.R is a counseling profession and that is done by guiding management. Evaluation will help one to guide the management because it provides the necessary objective for future policy planning.
Evaluation is the means of an objective overall performance analysis. According to Noble (1994) in his paper “Towards an inclusive evaluation methodology” pp.14 23, evaluation is a proactive forward-looking activity and also reviewing backward looking one. It is researching into how you performed and not to prove anything, as to who is right or wrong. Evaluation helps us to learn by finding out things and advancing. There two (2) forms of evaluation. They are pre-testing evaluation and post-testing evaluation.
Pre-testing evaluation comes before the implementation of a P.R. programme and it is used to try out communication materials developed for a particular public on a pilot (small) group. It is done immediately before the programme itself and it is to avoid falling into the pit of not being understood. Now let us look at the importance of pre-testing.
First, it is for clarity. Pre-testing helps to avoid confused messages, instructions and so on. The message must be clear and simple so that it is understood by its pubic. In sending message, there should be no noise so that people can understand and respond accordingly. If the clarity is not there, people might misinterpret your message and it will not have the impact you want. The pre-testing level is to find out whether people will understand the massage or not. If clarity is there, then we can implement the programme.
Secondly, pre-testing helps to save money. In planning, you have to budget for the pre-testing activity so that the money you will use at this level is different from the actual work. Maybe in designing your communication materials, you have printed 1000 posters and you found out that there is a mistake, you have to take it back and print all the 1000 again and you will loose lots of money. If it is done on small scale, you will see the mistakes. For example, you have to print 50 copies but you do it in batches of 10s. Here you will save money because if you print the first 10 and there is a mistake, it will affect that 10 and you can correct it rather than doing all the 50 and going back to do new ones.
It will also help to change the massage if it was not understood in the first batch. The next batch you will improve on it so that by the time you get to the last batch, you would have improved on it for the message to be understood.
Finally, it helps the P R person to save time. Every research has a time frame. If there is mistake and you have to go back and do some corrections, it will waste time. But if the PR person does his pre-testing evaluation for everything to be one well and work within the time frame, you will save time.