Elephant in the room – PR Measurement

July 4, 2014

It’s a brave man or women these days that stands up for Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) as a PR measurement return on investment (ROI). The PR industry stone heretics for mentioning those three blasphemous letters AVE. “The industry has moved on from such crude measurement,” or “PR is not advertising and should not be compared to it”, seem to be the common mantras of the anti AVE lobby.

But if you follow this debate it is those PR agencies and clients, generally, but not exclusively, within the consumer sector that cast scorn on this form of PR measurement. There is no doubt that Pre and Post campaign research can provide a clear measure of attitudinal change, if that is what is being measured. Of course, if such research is to be meaningful then a sample of sufficient size needs to be interviewed and results tabulated. Obtaining such information might be relativity straightforward if dealing with Mr & Mrs Average-Consumer, assuming of course that the budget to conduct such research has been agreed.

In the B2B world, in which BCM Public Relations Ltd operates, we might wish to use PR measurement to evaluate the clients brand recognition within the Upstream Production Director community of the World’s leading Oil & Gas Company’s. Now that’s a little trickier. This is where you are hit squarely with the wet towel of reality, put simply the cost of conducting such interview based research on an international basis, with senior executives in a tightly focused market will almost certainly cost more than the entirety of the original PR budget.

‘Surely social media will provide a measure; analytics are the key to everything’. Well yes, they are highly effective at providing statistics but only your target audience actively uses social media. What happens if they don’t?! Wind the clock forward twenty years and the situation will be different as we consume media through our Goggle Glass or the 2034 equivalent. In fact by then the technology will probably measure our biometric respond to editorial but for now we have to deal with the real world.

AVE is not perfect but for PR measurement in the international B2B world, within closely defined vertical markets and with limited PR budget, AVE provides a good indication of performance and ROI. The bold, or should I say confident agency, should be able to predict the AVE for a given market and campaign. That prediction should be mutually agreed between client and agency and then built into a Statement of Work (SOW) within a contract.

Oops did I mention “’SOW”, I think I just heard the thud of a letter hitting the doormat; it must be my one-way ticket to PR pariahdom. I think that be the subject of my next blog…

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