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RIP AVE and Hello Big Data for PR

Over a decade ago, data and PR were rarely used in the same sentence. Now, with the explosion of resources for measuring and tracking, PR pros can no longer run away from data. To succeed in modern day PR, practitioners need to embrace having the ability to track PR like never before and leverage it to achieve success.

But how do you sort through vanity metrics and avoid data overload?

During the fourth day of AMEC’s Measurement Week in NYC, two sets of measurement experts focused on how agencies and PR pros as a whole need to be looking at success.

Here are some key takeaways:

It’s Time for Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) to Die


By and large, PR pros have stopped relying on advertising value equivalency (AVE) as a useful metric. For decades this was a widely used PR measurement method that’s not only outdated, it’s ineffective. But what if your clients are adamant about using this metric?

You don’t need to bang your head against the wall.

Matt Kucharski, EVP of PadillaCRT, suggests in addition to AVE, “add other metrics to track and start to wean them off [AVE].”

Also keep in mind for many businesses measurement is a new practice.

“Over a decade ago, it was common for RFPs to include measurement as an afterthought,” says Barry Reicherter, director of insights and analytics of Finn Partners. Now he says that clients and PR pros alike are putting a larger emphasis on measurement.

“Clients may shy away from data because of fear,” says Mary Elizabeth Germaine, SVP, director of research of Ketchum PR. She believes this is because they may not know who to contact for information, have the right information and fear of losing their job if the data shows PR isn’t contributing to the bottom line.

Measurement is an Investment

Measurement Week Day 4 Panel 1

Now that measurement has taken a larger priority in PR, agencies and clients alike need to be prepared to allocate a larger budget for it.

“If you spend a minimal amount of money on measurement, it will be money wasted,” says Allyson Hugley, EVP of analytics of Weber Shandwick.

Measurement isn’t just for brands with big pockets.

“If you don’t have a big budget, be more efficient,” says Tim Baker, VP of digital strategy of MWW Group. He suggests that PR pros should tag URLs on all social activities so they can easily track results.

Count What Counts

Measurement Day 4 Panel 2

With so many measurement tools available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed about what to measure.

In the past, “PR was mostly smoke and mirrors. The importance of measurement has created a cause and effect in PR,” says Jeremy Woolf, SVP of global digital and social media practice lead, of Text100.

Likes, follows, press hit, unique website visitors, where do you begin and where do you end?

“Count what counts,” say Colby Vogt, SVP of research and analytics of FleishmanHillard. He explains that success looks different for each brand/organization.

Colby urges practitioners not to follow all the standard PR measurement metrics.

“They don’t always matter to everyone”, he admits. One of his clients has several different brands, and his team looks at different metrics for each because their goals are all unique.

Most importantly, don’t get too caught up in the numbers when measuring success.

“Put metrics in context says,” Philip Kam, VP of data and analytics of Text100.  “Make them work toward a real, defined purpose.

PR Isn’t Marketing and That’s Okay

Sometimes PR suffers from an inferiority complex to marketing. Although measurement is important, keep in mind not everything is quantitative.

Mary Elizabeth shares, “PR is about building trust and relationships. You may not be able to measure the impact of that on the bottom line today, but you will in the long-term.” She also emphasizes that, “media is a means to an end.”

She warns against practitioners stopping measurement at media coverage. Media is just part of the picture of PR.

“Keep in mind marketing metrics are not PR metrics,” Matt says. PR pros have to think about different stakeholders like investor and employee engagements as well.

“PR pros cannot just measure dollars generated,” he added. “We have to measure what’s the value to our brand, reputation, [etc.].”

Want more measurement information? Check out our recaps from Day 1Day 2 and Day 3!


Image credit: thierry ehrmann


About Adrienne Sheares

Adrienne Sheares is an enthusiast for all things social media. On the rare times she’s not on social media, she loves watching any cooking show and frequently pretends she’s a “Top Chef” contestant in her kitchen. You can find her on Twitter at @SocialMediaDC.

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