Outcomes en la evaluación de las relaciones públicas, la aproximación semiótica / Outcomes in the evaluation of public relations, the semiotic approach


  • Francisco Leslie López del Castillo Wilderbeek Universidad Pompeu Fabra (UPF)



Palabras clave:

Relaciones públicas, outputs, outcomes, evaluación, análisis del discurso, semiótica


La evaluación de las relaciones públicas es una actividad de primer orden cuyo objetivo es comprender si esta función ha alcanzado la efectividad pretendida. Pese a que el mundo académico ofrece modelos de evaluación, en la actualidad el análisis de los resultados obtenidos sigue estando más centrado en datos relacionados con la cobertura que genera las relaciones públicas olvidando la verdadera influencia que espera alcanzar.

Existe un consenso generalizado sobre la importancia que tiene medir los verdaderos resultados que se extraen de las acciones de relaciones públicas. Estos datos se conocen como outcomes y resulta muy complejo encontrar ejemplos reales y concretos sobre su medición o cuantificación.

Este artículo espera ofrecer una opción para el estudio de outcomes basado en la combinación de análisis del discurso y de la semiótica.

Palabras clave: Relaciones públicas, outputs, outcomes, evaluación, análisis del discurso, semiótica


Evaluation of public relations is a major activity whose goal is to understand whether this function has reached the intended effectiveness. Although the academic world offers evaluation models nowadays still common to analyze results with data obtained by the coverage generated by public relations, forgetting the true influence that it hopes to reach.

Authors such as MacNamara and Gregory (2018) have analyzed the evaluation models of strategic communication focusing on the final results that are the objective of the communication actions. On the other hand, institutions such as the AMEC have formulated in their frameworks the differences that exist between the coverage obtained (outputs) and the changes achieved (outcomes).

Therefore there is a general consensus on the importance of measuring the true influence of public relations actions. These data are known as outcomes and it is very difficult to find real and concrete examples of their measurement or quantification. This situation is due to the fact that institutions dedicated to measuring and evaluating communication avoid explaining in detail the methods they use to assess the achievement of objectives in the actions they implement.

This article hopes to offer an option for the study of outcomes through the combination of discourse analysis and semiotics. On the one hand, discourse analysis is a qualitative research method that aims to extract relevant information from a contextual perspective. On the other hand, semiotics is a discipline with a broad vision oriented to the comprehension of messages. Within this line the use of a technique known as semiotic square allows to show the tensions in the meanings related to a brand or organization.

The application of the discourse analysis and the semiotic square could allow interpreting the changes in the coverage generated by the communication actions of the organizations. This would be possible by applying an observation before the exposition and another after the application of the necessary communication actions that promote the values intended by the organization. The free change of the values that are associated to an organization can be a vital element to improve its media positioning in its business.

For example, Exxon implemented actions for the benefit of the environment following the rejection of its shareholders' meeting. The owners of the company criticized that the organization was being mismanaged for not taking into account the climate risk. The success of these actions is measurable both quantitatively and qualitatively by providing an outcome whose intensity can achieve shareholder acceptance. The change of meanings associated with Exxon may represent the approval of management by the real owners. In this small test the semiotic square measurement indicated the change from pro-contaminant and non-sustainable to anti-pollutant and non-sustainable values, and invites for more ambitious research.

Applying a case study, this research shows the possible use of two tools not valued until now. The combination of discourse analysis and semiotic square can be a great help for the interpretation of the results generated by concrete public relations policies within the strategic communication of an organization.


Public relations, outputs, outcomes, evaluation, discourse analysis, semiotics


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Biografía del autor/a

Francisco Leslie López del Castillo Wilderbeek, Universidad Pompeu Fabra (UPF)

Doctor en Comunicación (UPF)

Documentation Expert en REBOLD


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Cómo citar

López del Castillo Wilderbeek, F. L. (2019). Outcomes en la evaluación de las relaciones públicas, la aproximación semiótica / Outcomes in the evaluation of public relations, the semiotic approach. Revista Internacional De Relaciones Públicas, 9(18), 119–142. https://doi.org/10.5783/revrrpp.v9i18.612