No more AVEs. Not since the creation of AMEC’s Barcelona Principles. Absolutely not… Yet they persist, often at the insistence of clients, and the CIPR is making a determined effort to clamp down on this misleading measure of PR effectiveness.
Four messianic stalwarts of the drive to eradicate advertising cost as a valid measure told a Marketing Communications seminar in September that accurate measurement can be made simple, need not be expensive and can begin the process of educating clients.
Richard Bagnall, Chairman of AMEC* said demand for an AVE measure had declined from 80% in 2010 to 18% this year. He urged PR professionals to prove value by moving from outputs to outtake/outcome metrics. He directed them to the AMEC website where they can find the approved seven-point integrated evaluation framework. The framework can be used for free and adapted by any organisation – see amecorg.com/amec/framework
Stuart Bruce, CIPR Council member and Chairman of the Measurement Group reminded members that using AVEs did not comply with the standards of the CIPR code of conduct. “Fake or fraudulent metrics undermines the profession’s reputation,” he said, “and could put members at risk of disciplinary action.”
Sanctions come into effect one year from the publication of CIPR guidelines which are being finalised.
Measurement should be at the core of the agency offer, said Giles Peddy, Group MD for Lewis. He urged that organisations begin with the question “What business impact will your communications programme have on my organisation?”
The Lewis approach had evolved an integrated evaluation framework in three phases. The preparatory phase set organisation and communications objectives and strategies. Phase 2 set out the implementation activities, while phase 3 brought together measurements and insights arising from outputs, outtakes and outcomes, resulting in an evaluation of the impact of the communications programme on the organisation and its stakeholders.
PR professionals still using AVEs might be flummoxed about where to start, said Jerry Ward, MD of Press Data. “Going AVE cold turkey doesn’t mean you have to quit overnight, but you do need a plan,” he said. “That beginning could be a simple as telling your data story. Take it in stages and educate your clients.”
He urged PR professionals to become data literate and to be creative. Basic measures of outcomes can start with measuring attitude changes, sales, customer satisfaction, how business performance has increased as a result of PR.
* AMEC is the professional body for communications research. September was Media Measurement Month
Eugene Bacot, CIPR Marcomms Member