StrategyOne’s Fogel: ‘We Shouldn’t Be Using AVEs Anymore’

One of the most pressing (and never-ending) discussions happening across PR is how best to measure publicity work.

Individuals and organizations, like AMEC, are attacking the question with verve. One thing that everyone is slowly coming to agreement on: AVEs are no way to measure success.

In today’s guest post, Natasha Fogel, EVP of global comms measurement and analytics at StrategyOne, Edelman’s research specialty, shuns AVEs in favor of a more “scientific approach.” Click through to read on.

Measuring Without Fear… Or AVEs by Natasha Fogel, EVP, StrategyOne

As an active participant in the recent AMEC Summit, I have a few recommendations on how PR pros can start to reach towards the AMEC goals to deliver the best results for clients, and measure those results accurately. PR value and ROI are about measuring and demonstrating the outcomes of the PR. We cannot be afraid to explore more scientific methods of calculating PR.

AMEC reiterated the challenge of using advertising value equivalencies or AVEs. We shouldn’t be using AVEs anymore. They do not reflect the true value or public relations work, merely the cost of advertising, which has very different, though complementary aim for clients.

Client ROI and PR value don’t mean an arbitrary financial “value” (cost, really) based on published advertising rates, or the use of unscientific multipliers.

We have far more scientific, quality-focused, and quantitative measures to evaluate results. PR uses metrics like awareness, engagement, influence, and credibility to measure business outcomes for our clients. Combine metrics not only derived from media, but from primary research, the Web, and marketing analytics to measure your goal. For an e-commerce client, we evaluate perception among an audience pre- and post- campaign to demonstrate the efficacy of the campaign.

So, how do we encourage clients not to rely on AVEs? Start by asking the client why they need AVEs? What are you planning to do with the number? Management is sometimes trying to figure out where to allocate budgets, particularly if PR is reporting its contribution to the success of program to a marketing department. To do that we need to provide a statistical data model to test scenarios that provide the best results. For some, a focus on outcomes is a more digestible approach than modeling.

Measurement has to be part of the DNA of every PR program. We should reference back to the client’s business objectives and PR goals, through the filter of insights. These insights help steer or plot the course of the program. To inform clients, use workshops, process, and tools continually to demonstrate the effectiveness of using measurement and insights.

The key to success is to determine the appropriate measures of the program from the outset and not give in when someone asks for ad value. The ongoing PR measurement discussions will allow PR professionals to more accurately measure their success, and ultimately provide better value, and better measured value, for their clients.