*Pauline Leong Pooi Yin, Kumutham Krishnan & Catherine Lee Cheng Ean
Evaluation is the fourth step of the public relations (PR) process (Wilcox and Cameron, 2009). According to Grunig and Grunig (2001), evaluation research is necessary to establish the effectiveness of public affairs programmes and their contribution to organisational effectiveness. The purpose of this research is to assess the perception of Malaysian PR practitioners in corporations towards evaluation research, the extent to which it is conducted, and the criteria and methods used. The researchers conducted intensive interviews with five PR practitioners from corporations in different industries, from banking to automotive and property. The findings show that evaluation is practised in PR corporations and perceived to be important by PR practitioners. The researchers found that common methods of evaluation include survey and media coverage. Corporations also prefer to outsource media monitoring to reduce cost. They also perceive a PR return on investment (ROI) in terms of media coverage and branding. In conclusion, while evaluation is perceived as important, it is not practised as extensively in Malaysia. Evaluation research is mainly used for budgeting and branding purposes in Malaysian corporations. Although evaluation has the potential to help corporations in strategic public relations planning, this aspect has not been explored in depth.
Keywords: Communication audits, evaluation research, public relations activities, techniques and methodology