Tom Watson highlights the problem of promoting best practice examples of public relations by including measures of advertising value equivalent
[AVE, for the uninitiated involves calculating the worth of editorial coverage generated in PR campaigns against the cost to buy it as advertising – plus usually a factor multiplier to reflect editorial’s greater credibility.]
It is a ridiculous measure since the worth of advertising isn’t what you pay for it, but whether it delivers any enquiries, sales or other measurable outcome. Surely then assessment of editorial coverage should also be outcome-related.
Having been a Pride judge previously, I believe there are some very good entrants who indicate clear objectives and include a wider range of evaluation measures than simply AVE. I’m not sure if all judges are as critical of AVE measures as I was though.
Talking with practitioners whose employers or clients require AVE, reveals a classic chicken and egg situation (appropriately for Easter). The PRs say they are asked for AVEs and media evaluation companies have aggressively promoted the measure as a way to satisfy corporate demands for proof of PR’s effectiveness.
My belief is that PR practitioners should simply explain why AVE is flawed and promote more strategic and relevant ways of evaluation.
Commenting on Tom’s post, David Philips highlights the irony that as the cost of advertising is falling, so is the supposed value of PR using AVE as a measure – just at the time when arguably, we can demonstrate its greater value.
I hope David’s logic is recognised as a trigger to the demise of AVE and re-evaluation away from “press agentry” as the primary focus of PR practitioners.