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Barcelona, Lisbon and next year Paris – Does Measurement Travel?

I read PR Daily’s piece by David Rockland entitled PR Measurement beyond the Barcelona Principles and it quite rightly stated that AVE will not be missed.  AVE, for those new to PR, stands for advertising value equivalent and is the practice of placing a value on PR as the cost of purchasing the same in advertising space.  This was a common practice in the PR industry many years ago but with most progressive agencies and in house PR teams, it hasn’t even been mentioned or discussed for years.  I would guarantee that over half of our agency has never heard of AVE.

Regardless, last year in Barcelona 225 PR people who practice and care about moving PR measurement forward, agreed to the Barcelona Principles at the AMEC conference.  The Principles focused on setting goals before you measure and to measure media with quantity and quality metrics, not AVEs.  I was surprised that AVE was seen as so prevalent that its dismissal was second on the list of five focus areas for the Barcelona Principles.  I believe that the key good measurement is making sure all measurement is transparent (and luckily transparency is the fifth focus area) and AVE is not transparent at all.  Let’s all agree that.

In Lisbon this year, the participants developed a 2020 Measurement Agenda looking ahead at what we need to accomplish in measurement.  The good news about the focus areas is that AVE is nowhere.  Client and practitioner education is second and in my opinion absolutely key for us to develop standards.

In our small way, we are contributing to the betterment of measurement on a monthly basis.  Our management team met this week to review the various methods we use across the agency as every client is views success and the way it is measured differently.  Does success equal x number of clips in tier 1 publications?  Does it mean we minimized negative media coverage through effective crisis comms?  Does it equal high visibility for the CEO?  Does success mean the front page of the Wall Street Journal or 50 comments on an article in Mashable?

For us, success is knowing what success is.  That’s exactly what the Barcelona Principles mean by transparency.  It’s really that simple.  Set and agree goals, align those goals to business objectives, review output and outcomes, revise goals, and start over again.

What does success look like for you?

This post was first published by Cheryl Gale on March Communications’ blog, PR Nonsense, and may be viewed here.

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