• Penalising the AVE

    Penalising the AVE

    Members of the CIPR will have known for some time that the institute is no fan of the advertising value equivalent (AVE). And those of us in the industry who understand the logic of this, have been avoiding AVE measurement, where we possibly can.

    But AVEs have not died out, with many organisations continuing to request them from their PR teams and advisers as a way to “prove” the value of PR to bottom-line driven executives and boards.

    So when I entered the CIPR UK Excellence Awards this week (we entered and won in 2010 and 2012, so we thought why not!?) it was interesting to note that the institute is now not only discouraging the use of AVEs, it is actually penalising those who do use them – asking entrants to the awards to tick a box to accept that they recognise the use of AVEs as a form of measurement in the entry would lead to its preclusion.

    I hadn’t mentioned AVEs in the entry, and here’s why.

    AVEs give absolutely no indication of whether media coverage is reaching the right audience. If I’m targeting businesspeople, is there much value in having £200,000 worth of coverage in Nursing Times? Is a post on a niche blog that doesn’t sell advertising worthless if it is read by a small group of people who are very influential in a sector you are trying to influence?

    AVEs give absolutely no indication of what is being communicated. Is £2million worth of coverage on commercial radio worth anything if it is all negative? Or if it communicates something largely unconnected to the outcomes I am trying to achieve?

    If AVE is your choice of measurement, how do you measure what is on Twitter or Pinterest? How do you measure coverage on the BBC?

    So how should you measure?

    Outputs are important (number of media hits, messages communicated, prominence, relevance of media etc). But the most important way to measure the success of your PR is whether it is achieving what you ultimately want it to achieve.

    So set your objectives, have a strategic plan, create your activity with a view to achieving your objectives, and then measure if your activity is working. It will benefit your award entries. But more importantly, it will benefit your PR!