Did the PR Industry shoot itself in the foot discrediting Ave?
Measuring the effectiveness of PR has always been a challenge in the PR industry. In the past, agencies have often looked at AVEs (Advertising Value Equivalent) as a measurement of success, as it compares the monetary ‘value’ of coverage with an advertisement, but it was wrong because values were based on rate card – and who actually pays that – and they didn’t take into account the endorsement of the outlet and the active recommendation of the writer. So the valuation was discredited and clients then started to look around for other barometers of success, namely the impact of coverage directly on sales leads and agencies began to run around looking for alternatives. After all, every PR person knows that PR is not a great DR tool! SO in getting rid of AVE and leaving the clients to decide what ROI looked like, did the industry shoot itself in the foot?
Well, of course, the answer is no. Overall, it has made the industry much more focused on the commercial impact of PR but talk to most marketing directors and ask them to identify and quantify the impact of PR on their marketing efforts and they’ll still scratch their head.
As an agency that has always worked with digital clients, we focus on two key measurements for output – quality of product and impact – and we’ll set out and agree both at the start of every campaign.
We measure quality by tiering targets against audience and influence, by focusing on the scale and messaging of every article, story or post that we place. We look at volume, but we’re not a slave to it, instead we look at how our coverage is shared, discussed and amplified through social audiences. We score everything as standard and by doing this, we can clearly demonstrate how each piece of coverage is impacting our client’s communication and ultimately business goals.
The impact is tailored to each client and each campaign but using the client’s objectives and strategy, we’ll then think about the process our target audience will go through to make the decision we want them to, and we’ll use that process to set out delivery points that we can measure. For example, we may create a piece of downloadable content and measure traffic and downloads. We may look at creating search buzz by creating stories that will appear high up on Google against our client’s search terms. Or we may track mentions and conversations on social channels to measure whether our clients are becoming part of audience conversations. These delivery points are of enormous value in showing the tangible impact of our work on our client’s profiles with their audience.
So before you dive into your PR campaign, take a step back and look at your goals. Is PR the right discipline? If it is, what do you want to say to your audience and who are they? And consider the process of turning your audience from a “never heard of you” to a “like to buy” and look at the delivery points along the way. Lastly, don’t underestimate the value of getting your agency on-board with your thinking. Or better still, get them to come up with it and adopt it wholeheartedly. Only by doing so will you be able to evaluate the results properly as a client and agency team.