I attended PRNews’ Measurement Conference last week. I’ve always liked the format of this conference, it’s only one day which keeps everyone focused, it attracts vendors and clients who want to learn and share, and people actually network because time is short. This conference is valuable for those wanting to learn the basics about PR measurement, as well as getting into the depths of deeper ROI analysis. This was my fourth year attending and I had the honor of participating as one of the “Measurement Dr.” speakers. Pretty cool!
My top five takeaways:
- Can’t stress it enough: it is important to set meaningful and smart objectives when measuring PR performance. If you want to meet or beat the objective, it must be grounded in measurable terms, e.g., “generating significant buzz on a campaign” is not meaningful or measurable. Get concrete and realistic.
- Organizations that operate in social and traditional media need to look at both in tandem. They inform and complement each other. They are different, but you cannot substitute one for the other, nor measure one without taking the impact of the other into account.
- Question: how do you get around corporate lawyers on responding via social media during a PR crisis?
Answer: PR team needs to reach out and get involved early with corporate lawyers before the crisis to define the social media response policy. Doing so during a crisis is too late, and you’ll not be able to measure anything but negative customer conversation about how poorly your company handled the crisis.
- From Linda Rutherford, VP Communications, Southwest Airlines: “It’s a gift to learn something from our community of customers via social media and be able to adopt it as a message within the same news cycle.” This clearly illustrated how fast and impactful the social Web is. Great to see Southwest using it to their advantage.
- RoR – Return on Relationships. A good way to talk about the value that social media has for PR and the organizations they represent and what they can get out of engaging in and measuring social media performance. Two ways to look at it, what did we do with our relationships in social that pushed our message into the mainstream discussion, and what did we do with our relationships in social to purposefully keep something from becoming news.
Tags: crisis communications, measurement, media measurement, PR News, Public Relations, Social Media
Recently I’ve received a few requests from clients to provide Ad Value Equivalency (AVE) metrics. AVE is widely criticized by our industry as inaccurate for numerous reasons, but the influx of social media, Twitter, blogs, message boards, Facebook etc. makes AVE even more inaccurate.
At Dow Jones, we do not recommend using AVE as a best practice or as a mediocre practice for that matter. The metric seeks to illustrate the value of a company’s mentions in the media by using the number of column inches the article uses and matching that to the cost to run an equivalent size ad in the same publication. This derives a dollar value for editorial space such as: if an article mentioning your company/product/brand in The Wall Street Journal is 2″ x 6″ and an equivalent advertisement in the WSJ costs $40K (made up number), then the article is worth $40K in AVE.
AVE is inaccurate in many ways, but mainly it fails because it seeks to show ROI on PR efforts by using an advertising yardstick.
Getting into the details, not all articles in the media are positive, and rarely are they as positive about a company as an advertisement would be. Would a company pay top dollar for a neutral or mildly favorable advertisement? Additionally, calculating column inches does not take factors such as placement, design elements such as font, page layout, photos etc. into account. Further, and perhaps most importantly it is difficult to predict how readers will react when they see an ad vs. when they see an article about a company or product.
Social media and non-advertising Web media add yet another reason against using AVE. If your company is seeking to gain exposure in a specific blog that does not advertise, or in product message boards or other non-advertising spaces online, mentions in those outlets would not count in the AVE model. Add Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites to the equation and the AVE metric falls further off of the wagon.
As a metric, AVE doesn’t hold water and it cannot effectively measure value of social media. Advertising costs are different from PR spend. I’ll post some alternative PR ROI methods for those seeking to assign dollar values to PR performance in my next post. Additionally, I’ll add a review of a recent paper “A New Paradigm for Media Analysis: Weighted Media Cost” by Angela Jeffrey, APR Vice President Editorial Research, VMS; Bruce Jeffries-Fox President, Jeffries-Fox Associates and Brad L. Rawlins, Ph.D. Chairman, Department of Communications Brigham Young University.
Matt Donahue is a media consultant based in Washington, D.C.
Tags: AVE, PR measurement, Public Relations, Social Media