It’s a little frustrating that we’re still talking about this, but the sad fact is we are because some lazy PR people (let’s not call them professionals, as there’s nothing professional about them), still speak to their clients about the out-of-date and out-of-touch AVE (Advertising Value Equivalents).
Very simply, AVE is used to place a financial value to the press coverage achieved. For example, a half page article in a target magazine is given the equivalent value as what it would cost to book that space for an advert.
Worse still, some PRs still tell clients about the PR value. This is where the AVE is multiplied by three. Why? Because apparently, (even though I’ve not seen any evidence to support it), a piece of editorial is three times more valuable/influential/impactful etc than the equivalent sized advert. So if a client is told that its PR coverage for a particular month had an AVE of £2,756, the PR value would be £8,268. Worse still, if the client paid £2,000 that month for the PR service, they’d be told that the return on investment would be £4.13 for every £1 paid by the client.
AVE and PR value are a load of rubbish!
The Chartered Institute for Public Relations (CIPR) endorses the Barcelona Principles, created by the Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC). The Barcelona Principles are a very significant step forward in developing standards and professionalising the measurement of PR by focusing on outcomes rather than outputs. Among the seven principles is this – ‘AVEs are not the value of PR’
The CIPR states: ‘AVEs are not the value of Public Relations – was the most significant in terms of how public relations practitioners should approach the measurement of PR campaigns. Multipliers intended to reflect a greater media cost for earned versus paid media should never be applied.’
PRs should always recommend clients utilise a variety of other metrics to evaluate the PR coverage, including, but not limited to, key messages published, article sentiment, use of photography, use of quotes, column inches, etc etc etc.
Ultimately, the metrics used to evaluate the success of a PR service should be agreed between the agency and the client right at the start of the campaign and should be based on the overall objectives that are being sought.
Simply put, if your PR agency talks to you about AVE, challenge them about it and get them to justify the reason for using it.