In the last few weeks, we have been having discussions in the office about the importance of creative exploration to keep up to date with the ever-changing media environment. With the constant changes social media brings to the field of communication, it can be challenging to keep tabs on trends, where even set public relations methodologies are being challenged. For instance, the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) and other industry bodies are pushing for PR companies to stop using Advertising Value Equivalents (AVEs) as a measure of communication effectiveness.
So, what is AVE you might ask? PR companies work to keep your brand at the top of your consumer’s mind, not through paid advertisement, but through trusted sources. We are specialists in communicating with the media and public. We take your brand message and tell the story in a relatable way. PR is unpaid, earned and credible coverage. AVE is a calculation of what it would have cost for a paid advertisement of a similar size to the coverage we created. With traditional print and broadcast media, AVE is calculated by measuring the area or time taken up and multiplying these figures with the advertising rate. But as more and more focus is placed on digital and social media that includes paid, earned, shared and owned media, measuring output accurately and meaningfully is becoming more difficult.
How do we as a PR company then show our clients that our efforts are a worthwhile investment? The short answer is by firstly asking the right questions to our clients. What business outcome does a client want to achieve through communication and reputational campaigns? Increased awareness, advocacy, end-user adoption or demand for a product and service? By knowing what a client’s business objective is, a communication plan can be measured by demonstrable business impact.
But, we as PR practitioners, also need to ask the right questions of ourselves. Measurement and evaluation of our work is vital: asking what has happened, what has worked and what has not. And this needs to lead to actionable insights: learning what digital and social media channels are working well, what messages are achieving most engagement, and which partnerships are producing the best outcomes.
In the next few posts, we will be focussing on ways to measure and evaluate the output of digital and social media.