Wk 5: Consequences for increased demand for better measurement and evaluation

It is clear there is a need for improved measurement and evaluation of PD programs. PD programs are challenging in the sense that they require long term attention to yield tangible results, most require cross sector partnerships which is difficult to appropriately evaluate, and the new forms of media utilized within PD efforts require new forms of evaluation. With respect to these characteristics of public diplomacy initiatives, it only makes sense to specialize the way we measure and evaluate the work.  As Banks notes in “A Resource Guide to PD Evaluation”, the evaluation and measurements of PD programs have to reflect the public diplomacy objectives for a particular country. However, currently most programs are evaluated base their own merits, thereby missing out on broader trends, links, and applications. Although it is necessary to consider programs based on their country’s context, they should not be evaluated in a vacuum. Aggregating information about programs with similar objectives in various countries will be highly beneficial to gaging what types of programs will work best in different country contexts.

In broad terms, the US has not carried out contemporary public diplomacy initiatives long enough to have sufficient base line data. This limits the credence of current program evaluation, because there is not enough data to prove long term effectiveness. However, when we consider big data, therein lies a range of possibilities for supporting the efforts of public diplomacy initiatives. Public diplomacy programs have developed to become much more interactive due to the internet and social media platforms. Big data exists, we just need to know what to do with it. Fisher suggests in “Everybody’s getting hooked up…” to consider two potential areas, the operational activity of an organization and observing the greater networks of communities worldwide. Enlisting big data can provide significant leverage for the effectiveness of public diplomacy programs worldwide. In light of these changes, the betterment of measurement and evaluation would have very positive consequences.

-Samantha Sobash

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One thought on “Wk 5: Consequences for increased demand for better measurement and evaluation

  1. Hi Samantha, I really liked your blog post! I agree with you that the measurement and evaluation of PD programs is extremely crucial in carrying out PD initiatives. Because it is crucial, the way PD programs are evaluated must be improved.

    Like you stated, the US does not have sufficient data needed for proper evaluations because it has not carried out PD initiatives for long. Up until the late 20th century, the US’ PD tactics were heavily influenced by war and military actions, to which conjured up “propagandistic” or “nationalistic” type PD programs. Even as recently as the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the US PD objectives were in reaction to nationalist sentiment, and evaluations of PD programs were virtually lacking data. As Banks stated, “evaluation…is seldom on the agenda in a time of crisis when resources are committed hastily in the hope that something will work.” ( Banks, pg.7)

    What needs to happen, is for the government to “dig deep, looking not just at structures and general processes…but also at design methodology that could provide richer data to guide future programs and campaigns.” (Banks, pg. 14)

    – Taryn Jones

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