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Message Delivery – A Revised Approach for Public Relations Measurement

October 1, 2017

The measurement of communication impact has become a long-standing discussion in the public relations research community.

While discussions about standardized measurement date back decades (Lindenmann, 2005, pp. 3-4), the current debates about standardized measurement became prominent with the work of Michaelson and Stacks (Michaelson & Stacks, 2011).  In their 2011 article, they argued that public relations measurement needed to be standardized to demonstrate communication activity impact on absolute levels of impact as well as on relative measures. The question this paper explored is “What is the root cause for the lack of adoption of standardized measurement by the public relations profession?” In so doing, this paper proposes a revised approach to standardized measurement that is based on message delivery based on a revision of an analytic approach originally proposed by Michaelson and Griffin (2005) that is steeped in message level content analysis. It expands this approach by creating a unified message delivery-scoring model that provides for the inclusion of intended messages, the omission of intended messages, and the presence of negative messages in media. The research includes rigorous testing that demonstrates the validity and statistical reliability of the proposed model and its relationship to sentiment analysis. The analysis also examines the statistical impact of negative messages in media and concludes that the presence of negative messages effectively detracts from the overall sentiment of an article just as the presence of positive messages increases overall sentiment.