MEASURING PR: OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW?
September 27, 2019
The way in which agencies and marketing teams approach the measurement of PR results has evolved considerably.
Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE), a method which considers the physical size of media coverage resulting from PR activity and multiplies this by the equivalent cost of advertising space, has largely fallen out of favour as a credible approach.
Yet, understandably, there is consistent pressure on communicators to provide clear, easily comparable measures that can sit alongside results from other communications initiatives and demonstrate a return on PR investment.
From AVE to digital
While there is merit in the fact that AVEs sought to quantify the value of PR time, money and effort, there are some flaws, most notably: media coverage resulting from PR activity is not advertising. It’s also impossible to calculate when coverage is earned in media without an advertising rate.
AVEs also value coverage highest where the advertising rate is highest – often national outlets with a broad audience reach. While these may indeed reflect successful PR activity, coverage that comes from key messages placed in trade publications that are read by a very specific target audience may be high value. It could influence more direct action but would be less ‘valued’ by AVEs.
While AVEs sought to quantify general PR value, they cannot adequately assess outcomes against specific PR objectives. This, after all, is the aim – to be able to determine if PR activity achieved what it set out to and, if it didn’t, to understand what must be changed.
A range of traditional measurement tools and methods – both quantitative and qualitative – still exist and provide legitimate ways of assessing success against objectives. Yet, in recent years, they have been joined by an array of digital measurement tools which can provide insight into everything from search engine ranking to social media engagement levels.
Together, it makes for a potential embarrassment of riches in the ways that PR can be measured so where do you start?
It’s a question we consider in our white paper ‘Measuring PR: is there a right or wrong way?’ Download it to learn more about how PR measurement has evolved from AVEs, through traditional quantitative and qualitative methods, to the wealth of digital tools now available, and how to approach PR measurement with a clear understanding of business objectives, campaign aims and desired outcomes.