Measurement: the final frontier for PR.

I was shocked to read earlier this week that an estimated 50 to 60 per cent of PR campaigns use no method of evaluation. Considering that most businesses are obsessed with evaluation and analysis, why has the PR industry struggled for such a long time when it comes to measurement? Luckily a news item that came through this week helped give me the answer.

Gorkana reported that for the 2013 CIPR Excellence Awards, any entry which includes AVE (Advertising Value Equivalent) will be given a score of zero for the measurement and evaluation section of the judging. It appears to be the final nail in the coffin for an outdated measurement method that has held the industry back when it comes to effectively evaluating PR efforts.

Now the notion that AVE is an inadequate measurement method is by no means a new concept. Of course being able to put a numerical value on PR is an attractive prospect, however using such a rudimentary method of merely multiplying the advertising value by a pre-determined number was never going to satisfy the entire industry.

It seems however that as an industry we have inadvertently ignored the need for an effective measurement of our work.  It is often said that PR professionals, whilst being keen wordsmiths, will shy away from any numerical analysis of their work. However businesses are built on numbers, and the ability to quantify your efforts is something the industry should face up to.

But how can you put a value on PR? It’s easy to get bogged down in precise arguments about what metrics should be used and how you can ever put a value on something that still has so much subjectivity aligned to it. However it does not have to be this complicated. Essentially the measurement of any PR requires you to consider the objectives that yourself and your client have agreed upon, and then to measure what you’ve achieved against this. These were the thoughts that leading figures of the PR industry agreed upon when they met in Barcelona two years ago, to devise what has since become known as the Barcelona Principles.

However, since the leading experts in measurement and evaluation met in Barcelona, we have seen minimal efforts to create measurement tools that can quantify the value of a piece of PR to a client. With this in mind, we at BlueSky have been working on a project to do just this. With the incorporation of the Barcelona recommendations, we have spent the past few months creating  a measurement and evaluation tool that we believe takes into account all of the factors that determine the quality of a piece of coverage to a client. The product is in a Beta stage at the moment, but from our initial testing and the feedback we’ve received from some PR practitioners with considerable experience, it’s something that we at BlueSky are incredibly excited about. Watch this space….

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