PR, Films and Fantasies

What do PRSA, CIPR, AMEC and PRCA do when they meet for a coffee?

Posted on: November 17, 2010

They plan the death and burial of AVEs (advertising value equivalent)!

First of all let me define the abbreviations above for those who have no idea what I am talking about:

PRSA is the PR Society of America

CIPR is the Chartered Institute of Public Relations here in the UK

AMEC is The International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication and

PRCA is The Public Relations Consultants Association

This afternoon I had the chance to meet and hear the leading names and key persons of all of the above in London, in a conference on “PR Measurement Metrics – From concept to implementation reality.” The first hour was actually transmitted around the world with professionals from the US, Holland and Sweden watching (they were more but those were the ones I remember).

The topic was quite simple and direct – how do we effectively measure PR? As students, we are being told and we read over an over again that in PR, results are not about numbers and material revenue but about opinion, relationship, support and mostly action.

However, it seems that in the world of work things are a bit different and many PR professionals still use the old idea that a half-page article on their client in a national newspaper can be evaluated in terms of how much the client’s advertising agency would have paid for that half a page to contain an advert of the same product.

Not only is the advert controlled 100% while the coverage depends on a million factors but the response to each of them is totally different. I know it sounds common sense, but from what I have heard today, many still don’t want to bother to do a bit more in terms of evaluation than transforming media space in PR results.

The above mentioned associations have been trying for years to come up with an official toolkit which would lead to effective measurement. They started to talk about it back in 1999, had a huge conference in Barcelona last year where they came up with the famous Barcelona Principles and are now, in 2010, ready to put them in practice.

  • Goal setting and measurement are important
  • Media measurement requires quantity and quality
  • AVEs are not the value of public relations
  • Social media can and should be measured
  • Measuring outcomes is preferred to measuring media results (outputs)
  • Organisational results and outcomes should be measured whenever possible
  • Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement.

They propose a system of measurement based on a grid. If on one axis we have the 3 key stages of PR – PR activity (as in create and tell the story/message); Intermediary (key third parties involved in spreading the message) and Target audience (how the message is consumed) and on the other axis the 5 steps in the Communication Funnel: awareness, knowledge, interest, preference and action, we will find ourselves in front of a grid with 15 little boxes.

Each of the boxes represents a stage in the communication effort and has its own measurement tools which changes from campaign to campaign and client to client.

The box which most interests the client is obviously the last one (meaning the action that the target audience takes) as it is the one which has the greatest impact on the business results. But each of the others are there to justify the last one and to show that the direction is good.

For example in a campaign which focuses on teen pregnancy, the action can be measured by analysing whether or not the numbers are lower than before, how many teens asked for help, how many are supporting the campaign and what their reactions were.

Tomorrow morning I will get the slides from today and hopefully I will be allowed to upload some on the blog in order to show you what exactly it is that they have in each of the key communication points.

However, today’s conclusion was not “this is how you have to measure your campaigns and communication efforts” BUT the idea that changing the ways in which PRs feedback their results to the clients into more effective and elaborate methods will help raise the reputation for the profession and the industry itself. All of the associations said that from now on, they will judge awards according to these rules, they will promote them among their members and they will do their best that in a few years’ time they will become a must.


To be continued…







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