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Modern-day Public Relations measurement: AVEs step aside for total value

Mika Chauke, Managing Director of High Pitch Media, writes that public relations measurement is at a junction. For many years public relations practitioners have trusted AVEs* to prove to the C-Suite** how effective their latest public relations campaign was or how solid their media relations are. However, AVEs are being phased out to make place for tools that can measure exposure, engagement, influence and action - better known as Total Value.

Before we look at modern-day metrics though, let's remember that value is a subjective term. It differs from organisation to organisation and from person to person within that organisation. The key to selling public relations to the C-Suite is uncovering that secret value system and aligning it with the way you measure public relations activity.

Moving away from AVEs

AVE measurement's dilemma is that it reduces public relations to just a media dimension, while public relations brings so much more to the boardroom table. AVEs don't tell you exactly who saw the media coverage, whether it inspired them to tell others, or moved people to buy your client's product. In other words, did your public relations campaign translate into business for your client? AVEs don't address negative coverage which can be detrimental to reputation, or the value of NOT being mentioned when your client has egg on its face. AVEs only apply to traditional media and AVE values are sometimes greatly inflated by the magical multiplier. Depending on tonality, prominence, article length, image impact and prestige of media channels, a value could be multiplied by up to twelve times!

Barcelona Principles

It's no wonder then that the global public relations community*** rejected AVEs as a concept to value public relations when it adopted the Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles in 2010. Barcelona signalled a course change and set the scene for last year's creation of the Lisbon Legacy: a 2020 Measurement Agenda, with "How to measure ROI on public relations", "public relations practitioner and client education" and "Developing global standards for social media measurement" as the top priorities.

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