Forget AVEs (advertising value equivalent), they’re flawed and everyone in the PR industry knows it. The debate is now moving on to alternative forms of measurement, presenting PR with tremendous opportunities to demonstrate its true value. The crucial word here is ‘value’. Public relations has been undervalued for far too long and the time has come for its true contribution to the value of an organisation to be recognised.
Let’s not beat about the bush. When we talk about the ‘value’ of PR, we mean financial value: pounds sterling, dollars, euros, rupees, whatever. The one – and only – thing right about AVE is that it uses a financial metric. This is one of the main reasons why AVEs have been so tough to shift. Everyone understands financial value, from the junior trainee to the CEO; and if there’s one danger from removing AVEs it is an assumption that there’s something wrong with putting a financial value on media coverage. There isn’t – in fact it’s crucial to do so.
The simple fact is that media coverage does have financial value, both as an asset and – let’s not forget – a liability. Another huge benefit of this approach is that it provides a universal metric with which to measure, track and compare the effectiveness of media coverage, which is a vital KPI of reputation on a national and global basis.
The PR industry has craved a standard metric of measurement for many years; and now there is one. The public relations search value (PRSV) is free and very simple to use. So how does it work? A good analogy would be the property market. Just as a property’s value is determined by what people are prepared to pay for a good position within a location, so the open market value of a Google search result depends on its position within the search results page. PRSV works by combining this open market value, determined by where it appears in Google search results, with the likelihood it will engage audiences by being opened and read.
This means that while AVEs use an equivalent value based on extraneous criteria, which themselves are wide open to interpretation, PRSV provides a clear and specific value based on the effectiveness of media coverage in its own right. Furthermore, the strong relationship between PRSV and search, which is used in up to 90% of consumer and business decisions, means PRSV is strongly and directly aligned with business impact and consumer behaviour.
PRSV provides the PR industry with the open standard measurement metric it has been clamouring for over the past 25 years. While the use of AVEs is falling they will never be eradicated without a viable alternative. PRSV now provides this credible and robust alternative to AVEs. PRSV can also be used with AMEC’s Integrated Evaluation Framework, for which it provides an ideal metric for comparison purposes.
A major benefit of PRSV is that it provides a level playing field on which to compare the performance of different organisations across different sectors, nationally and globally. This really matters given the competitive landscape in which all organisations – private, public or not-for-profit – now have to operate.
Another benefit of PRSV is that it provides a holistic view of the organisation’s reputation in terms of media coverage. Just as management accounts provide a snapshot of the organisation’s financial position at any moment in time, so PRSV accounts provides a snapshot of the organisation’s reputation value, at least in terms of media coverage. In fact, we foresee a time when PRSV value will become part of financial accounting, appearing on the balance sheet in the same way as any other asset or liability.