Beyond the Numbers: Taking Evaluation to the Next Level

By: Dr. Allison Hyra

Dr. Allison Hyra, TMN's Senior Researcher

Dr. Allison Hyra, TMN’s Senior Researcher

In marketing and communications, one of the most difficult questions to answer is: Did our efforts make a difference?

Many of us calculate media impressions, estimate reach, and study website analytics to determine our response to that question, but that information is only a part of it.

The next step is to determine whether our activities imparted the knowledge and motivation needed for audiences to make positive behavior changes. In the research world, these changes are known as immediate outcomes. For example, immediate outcomes for a campaign about the dangers of texting and driving may include:

  • Increased the awareness of a problem: “I understand that texting while driving increases my risk of having a car crash.”
  • Improving knowledge about the problem and how to address it: “I can easily avoid the consequences associated with texting while driving.”
  • Changing attitudes and opinions about the problem: “Texting while I drive is a dangerous activity.”
  • Improving behavioral intentions: “Next time I get in the car, I’ll put my cell phone in the glove compartment.”

TMN is currently conducting an evaluation to assess immediate outcomes of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) activities to educate individuals about the dangers of impaired driving

Over the past two years, we’ve collected data from over 6,000 people nationwide about their attitudes regarding impaired driving and awareness of impaired driving slogans, advertisements and police efforts.  These surveys are conducted before and after NHTSA conducts nationwide crackdown efforts and media placements about the topic.  

The fact of the matter is that if people don’t learn the information or change attitudes about an issue, they will not be compelled or empowered to act and effect change.  By taking evaluation to the next level, organizations like NHTSA are able to increase the probability that their activities are not just being seen by people, but are also improving their lives.

 

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