Coutts J&R

Evaluation is the foundation of strong decision making

Welcome to Coutts J&R — one of Australia’s leading evaluation companies. We have the experience and networks to meet your monitoring, evaluation and reporting needs.

Coutts J&R provides you with industry leading expertise and tools to collect, interpret and effectively use information to make the best decisions for your project and program. Our expertise is in establishing evaluation frameworks, planning and undertaking monitoring and evaluation (or mentoring your staff as they undertake the process) and measuring and reporting on impact. Our challenge is to make sure that you have the information you need to make the most informed decisions and meet your reporting requirements.

Contact Details

+61 (0)438 361 153
PO Box 2681, Toowoomba Queensland 4350

Coutts J&R's Blog

Posted by Amy Samson

Many rural, NRM and agricultural organisations invest sometimes significant amounts on communication programs which we all agree can play a vital role in growing next and end user knowledge, awareness and understanding. Why then are these clearly important activities not always measured as rigorously as the research and adoption and extension programs, with communication outcomes clearly linked to and measured against higher level organisational objectives?

An excellent journal article arrived in my inbox this morning from the latest Public Relations Journal by Alexis Bajalia (volume 13, issue 2) – Where Are We Now? Public Relations Professionals Discuss Measurement and Evaluation. Alexis looks at the current state of measurement and evaluation in the PR (and by extension the communications) industry by reviewing excellence and role theories in literature and interviewing PR professionals across different organisations in the US about how they “view measurement and evaluation and the extent to which they use measurement and evaluation findings to influence organizational effectiveness”.  This article has some great takeaways for any comms professional.

I like how Alexis notes that output-level metrics (e.g. impressions, circulation, no. of articles etc) are a necessary first step but the important part for continuing to advance the PR profession, is to link outputs and outtakes (e.g. reaction, tone, click throughs, engagement, followers) with outcomes (e.g. awareness, impact, attitudes, advocacy). Executive level PR professionals she spoke to expressed a high level of awareness of the need for making these connections, particularly noting the management function of PR and the importance of outcome-level metrics, building relationships, and satisfying stakeholder needs.

It’s also interesting how Alexis found through her interviews that PR professionals at junior and executive levels were more likely to engage with and advocate for measurement and evaluation if they had strong relationships with higher level management.

The article is worth a read in full, particularly if you are in comms/PR or interested in measurement and evaluation at all, but I wanted to pull out a few points worth pondering raised in the article.

  • Professionals (executive and junior) who reported using Advertising Value Equivalent or AVE (a metric which equates coverage to equivalent advertising spend) said they do not think the metric is strong or even valid.
  • Executives interviewed pointed out measurement and evaluation challenges as being a need for staff trained in data analytics; the need to develop stronger, more creative ways to measure (beyond outputs); and the need to integrate measurement and evaluation.
  • The findings of the study recommend these steps for PR/Comms professionals who want to improve their measurement and evaluation:
    • determining what success looks like up front by initially defining objectives and key performance indicators;
    • increased planning for and implementation of evaluation research at the formative, process, and summative levels;
    • integration of measurement among departments and platforms to gain clearer, deeper insight about audiences;
    • determining correlations between outputs and outcomes, rather than relying on anecdotal measures or inferences;
    • and a willingness to be critical of what has been done in the past, making room for stronger ways to measure and evaluate public relations.

While this article is based on a relatively small sample and is US based, Alexis points out that her findings line up with decades of literature and contribute new knowledge about the current state of PR (and comms) measurement.  And I agree that this study has a lot to offer and makes good suggestions for continuous improvement, which is what we all should be doing!

The International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications (AMEC) has developed an integrated logical framework which is a great comms planning tool and extremely helpful for developing meaningful and impact based reporting at the organisational level (e.g. KPIs and objectives).

If you are outcomes and objectives focused when planning your comms program, integrate data collection activities across your organisation, and deliver impact based reports, you are well on your way. If you’re not and want to be able to better plan for and prove the value of your comms program, we’re more than happy to have a chat.

Read more blog posts

News Updates

The Australian Government recently announced the foundational programs for its $5 billion Future Drought Fund with eight programs starting to roll out from July 2020.

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, said in the press release that “The programs have been developed based on expert advice from the independent Consultative Committee, led by Mr Brent Finlay, a fourth generation farmer, as well as valuable input from communities and industry during last year’s national public consultation tour on the Drought Resilience Funding Plan.”

Coutts J&R has been working on programs and projects in the climate adaptation space for a number of years and see the need for funding such as this. It will be interesting to see the projects and initiatives eventuating from this and their future impact on the communities and agricultural industries they are intending to support.

Effective monitoring, evaluation and learning will be vitally important for funded projects to prove the value of the Australian Government’s investment and its impact on rural Australia.

Further information about the Future Drought Fund and its programs can be found on the Drought Fund website.

Recent Projects

Coutts J&R worked with Qld Farmers’ Federation (QFF) on its final reports for the GGBR project. This included an in-depth report for project stakeholders including Reef Alliance partners and the Federal Government as well as a brochure for more widespread use.

AgSkilled is a $14.7million NSW Government funded and industry led workforce development strategy, aiming to ensure NSW’s Cotton and Grains industries have a skilled workforce, capable of meeting the challenges of the future. Coutts J&R undertook a mid-term evaluation of the program that reported on its impact and outcomes to date. The evaluation approach consisted of a broad web survey of program participants, stakeholder interviews with key partner organisations/training providers, case studies highlighting specific positive outcomes/practice change, and analysis of any evaluation data already captured by the program.

View more projects