The Difference Between the Three "Os"

One of the most common and widely accepted approaches for evaluating the effectiveness of communication-based activities focuses on measuring the three “Os”: outputs, outtakes and outcomes. 

Measuring the effectiveness of your public awareness activities is not an exact science. However, if you build a program that measures your efforts (outputs), stakeholder awareness and knowledge (outtakes) and key stakeholder behaviors (outcomes) you can determine which elements of your program are effectively impacting behaviors and influencing attitudes. 

Outputs, Outtakes and Outcomes connect the dots between communication-based activities in your tactical plan and the impact they have on behaviors and attitudes that result in safer pipelines. 

Outputs are the actions you take to communicate messages to stakeholders. Tracking your 
outputs should be one of the first measurement activities that you implement and can be done 
using a paper-based or electronic database method. Examples of outputs include: 

• Brochures or other direct mail 
• Press releases 
• Face-to-face meetings  
• Social media posts

Measuring outputs allows you to document the opportunities that key stakeholders have to see (or hear) your messages and to analyze the frequency and mix of communication vehicles used to deliver these messages. 

Outtakes are knowledge, attitudes, opinions and levels of confidence. Outtakes also include the self-expressed likelihood of an action or behavior. Samples of outtakes include: 

• Percentage of affected public that recognize the problem or issue
• Percentage of affected public who correctly answer knowledge questions 
• Basically, the takeaways from the experience

Measuring outtakes helps you determine the effectiveness of your tactical plan. Techniques for 
measuring outtakes include surveys, in-depth interviews as well as focus groups. 

Outcomes are stakeholder actions and behaviors.

Measuring outcomes is the holy grail of understanding the effectiveness of your public awareness program. Sample techniques for measuring outtakes include analyzing behaviors, field research and surveys.

How do you utilize the three “Os” within your measurement evaluation? We want to know!

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