As India's Public Diplomacy Division brings structure and strategy to Indian PD efforts it is also important for the PD division to have systems in place that can evaluate these efforts. This is not easy. The U.S. National Strategy for Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication (2007) is a comprehensive document that sums up the importance of evaluating PD. In acknowledging the difficulties involved in evaluating PD efforts, the document states,
"As Edward R. Murrow once observed, no cash register ever rings when a mind is changed. The impact of information and education programs that touch the emotions, beliefs, intellects and allegiances of diverse audiences around the world is often difficult to gauge, especially when any public diplomacy activities may only produce long-term, rather than immediate, impact."
There are some obvious difficulties associated with measuring PD. Some obvious reasons are:
- The gestation period for results of PD efforts tend to be long
- Mostly the desired outcomes, measures and concepts tend to be intangible
- What derives from the above is the fact that it is difficult to achieve the 'cause-effect' relationship It is difficult to ensure continuous, sophisticated 'tracking' as it is done in communication campaigns. The reason maybe lack of tools, large sizes of samples and databases in terms of numbers as well as spread etc
- This in itself makes it a very time, labor and cost intensive process
Nonetheless it is important that evaluation is given a priority to ensure dynamism in PD strategy. According to Prof Eytan Gilboa, Director, Center for International Communication at Bar Ilan University, 10% of PD budget should be dedicated for evaluation and evaluation efforts should be a built in component of any PD strategy.
Well Madhur , Anybody who will design new division in the structure should be aware that an assessment of work must be done regularly, otherwise it is a loose of money, time and effort.
The problem is, generally embassies do supply the foreign ministries with reports of how their country looks like in the host country.
That is not done as we wish ... If the PD division will ask the embassies to fill up and update the related division of specific information on time. i.e the analysis of the image of the country in the host country's media in monthly based .. we will reach by the end of the year with ready data to be interpreted and evaluated with recommendations. If not, then the DP Division should consider working with a consultancy firm which will assign researchers to conduct the necessary research ..
It will be nonsense to establish a division to look over the PD and not to evaluate the work of that division properly .. where evaluating it is not a big deal if it is done in a structural way and in the correct time.
Specialist of Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communications
Thanks Moner! Could you share some of your experiences in evaluating PD programs? Apparently it is difficult to objectively and accurately measure outcomes.
Madhur, I did evaluate the Turkish PD in UK as well as ; if the TR PD is effective enough for the accession to the European Union. At the moment I am working on different PD researches in the Middle East.
Now related to your comment of the difficulty to objectively and accurately measuring the outcomes .. you are right .. it all depends on the researcher interpretations and understanding of the data collected.
As example, a problem might happen while trying to evaluate media messages / news .. and if you go for qualitative or quantitative analysis .. if one evaluator will do it , then you might face a problem with the accuracy ; how this person evaluate or read the message ... he might need to sit for long hours to understand what does this news mean and if it is positive or negative.
I have no idea why the edited version of what I wrote did not appear. but anyway, let me do it here in a new post . so the interpretation of the media messages might sometimes be problematic because the initial evaluator may think it is positive/negative/irrelevant etc.. so for that we have lead and principle evaluators .. I mean group work .
Some are using now the Logical Model for the evaluation inputs>activities>outcomes>impacts .
Also, the ODI have published a guide
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