July 2017

Measurement and PR

How should you measure the impact of PR?

The PR sector is in the middle of an identity crisis about the best way to value its work.

Undeniably powerful (when at its best), PR has the ability to change perceptions, build trust and generate sales.  Equally, bad PR has the potential to destroy reputation, leading to a collapse in corporate value or create image problems that could take years to improve.

Given the perceived intangibility or problems in proving the causality of these effects, it is understandable that the industry has struggled to create a satisfactory means to measure its impact.

Current best practice is summarised in the Barcelona Principles, promoted by AMEC (The International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication), all reflecting common sense, but without setting out a clear solution.

One thing that AMEC (and other trade bodies such as PRCA and ICCO) are clear on is the need to ban AVE (advertising value equivalent) as a measure.

AVE attempts to place a value on PR coverage by indicating how much it would have cost to buy the same level of profile as advertising.

This imperfect measure has long been problematic (how do you measure the value of coverage on the BBC, do you include a full media feature or just the few sentences mentioning a brand – for example), but with the growth of digital media AVE is now stretched to a logical breaking point (what’s the value of a tweet from Kim Kardashian – anyone?).

AMEC has launched a campaign to eradicate AVEs and one of the main UK PR trade bodies (CIPR) has gone as far as to ban the use of AVEs amongst members and threaten to discipline members that don’t comply. 

Despite this more than a third of PR firms are reportedly still using AVEs as a measure.

Our view is that PR has long suffered from failing to show business leaders the impact of their communications on reputation and the bottom line. 

For this reason, we have pioneered with providing insight that tracks changes in reputation and highlights the impact of communications.  We provide this for many brands and organisations worldwide.  We even work with media brands, such as The Guardian, to help highlight the impact content partnerships have for their commercial clients on brand reputation amongst key audiences.

If you’d like to know more about how to place a real value on PR – looking at both its tangible and intangible impact (both on commercial measures and reputation), please get in touch.