What you and your clients need to know about AVEs

The scourge of advertising value equivalents to measure PR work persists, despite the industry’s best efforts.

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This conundrum exists despite the PR community’s adoption of the Barcelona Principles in 2010 that called for an end to using AVEs. Here’s what clients and PR practitioners need to know:

• AVEs are based on the cost of advertising. The value of advertising is not equal to its cost; so why would the cost of advertising be equal to the value of public relations?

• Standard multipliers showing that earned media is more valuable than paid media don’t exist. Sometimes earned media is more effective, and sometimes it is less effective. There are techniques to figure out the relative value.

• Quality has to come into the picture when evaluating earned media. Did you say the right things to the right people in the right place at the right time? Blanket use of AVEs assumes answers to all these questions are, “yes,” which they rarely are.

• The value of public relations comes most often from effects on awareness, understanding, perception, behavior, and advocacy — none of which are the cost of advertising. Measuring the message delivery to the target audience through media analysis is a helpful proxy for PR value.

Meaningful metrics

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