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New approaches to global standards and metrics for PR program measurement

[1]London recently played host to PR professionals from across the US and Europe during “PR Measurement Metrics – From Concept to Implementation Reality [2],” a follow-up event that expanded upon the principles of PR measurement created in Barcelona earlier this year.  Hosted by four key industry bodies, The International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) [3], The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), [4] The Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) [5] and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), [6] this event brought together many of the industry’s best and brightest to share best practice and discuss the power of effective PR programme measurement.

It has been long-held in the PR industry that Advertising Value Equivalents (AVEs) do not provide suitable or intelligent ROI for clients, yet through ease of use and client demand, the industry has continued to use this base marker as an indication of worth. Outputs rather than outcomes have been the industry’s standard way of demonstrating performance. (Put simply, think book of clippings rather than increase in clients’ revenues).

One senior member of the panel reflected on an initiative from 10 years ago where the industry looked for an alternative to AVEs and here we are, 10 years later in the same position. So what is different now?

The PR industry has come together to address the challenges around what and how to measure the value of PR. You can see the outcomes within the presentations on http://www.londonmeasurementconference.org/downloads.html [2]. But what struck me was that we have a transatlantic effort from four major industry bodies all dedicated to making improvements. Are you an agency thinking of entering industry awards next year? If so, take a look at the new metrics. Senior figures in each body have indicated a desire for clear metrics in order to be a category winner. Winning awards however, should not be your driver. What should be your driver is the demonstration of how your intelligent and professional effort has made a clear difference to your clients’ business performance.

As with all new initiatives, adoption will take some time. Just talking around the room at the coffee break at this event, PROs were questioning how to set processes in place to capture and report metrics and how to educate and sell clients away from “good old AVEs.” Elsewhere in marketing, this is already being done; think SEO, for example, where effort can very clearly lead to significant outcomes, not just in organic search position but also hard sales.

Alongside the efforts of the four industry bodies, there was a rallying cry for all involved to carry the message and start pushing sensible measurement metrics now. Mike Daniels, chairman of AMEC closed the conference with “don’t ask permission to perform measurement, just do it.”

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