Moving goal posts of PR measurement

November 2015

    The value of a brand is built on what customers think of a company and how they convey that message to others via word of mouth.

    This basic public interaction is usually shaped and directed by various reputation management tools, which with no doubt will eventually translate into profitable foot traffic.

    Transcribing this benefit, however, into a tangible language that corporate bean counters understand was only a recent development and is still making its mark at various increments among global practitioners and corporations alike.

    Even though the developing the Barcelona Declaration of Research Principles, which are voluntary guidelines that were established to measure the efficacy of PR campaigns, were already agreed upon by agencies from 33 countries in Spain back in 2010, measuring the return on investment of PR is still inconsistently applied, which continues to murky the water for marketing managers and their budget proposals.

    Some agencies still advocate the archaic Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) measurement, which is able to put a rand value on media coverage and, by extension, allow a direct comparison with advertising.

    Others still propose statistical correlations that are tailored to each client’s needs or measure tactics like reach and number of placements, rather than outcomes (like increase in sales or website conversions).

    David Gallagher CEO of Ketchum EMEA told Magna Carta employees on his recent visit, that even though public relations has evolved in line with consumer’s growing need for more informative and valuable content, agencies in general need to have more serious conversations with their clients on what such an evolution means for their specific PR strategies. Adopting a more comprehensive and effective way of measuring the value of our communication efforts will tilt their strategies in the right direction.

    Gallagher emphasised the fact that the industry needs to work even harder to break through the resistance and start practicing what they preach to be more consistent in our approach.

    Ruan Jooste,

    Media Director at Magna Carta