Monday, November 22, 2010

PRSA AMEC New Metrics Webinar: Thoughts

Posted by Amanda Walsh and Leah Ludwig

As members of the industry organization, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the Furia Rubel team is frequently invited to participate in webinars. A recent webinar, broadcast from London, was especially eye-opening for us because it dealt with contested points within the public relations industry regarding PR campaign measurement and metrics.

Measurement and metrics is an area that has been debated for a long time within the PR industry and there is still no proven equation or metrics. This blog post is intended to give a bird’s eye view of what is currently going on in the public relations industry. As a PR and marketing agency, we believe that the way in which measurement and metric evaluations are communicated with clients depends heavily on the client’s industry.
The webinar marked a continuation of a conference hosted by the Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) and the Institute of Public Relations (IPR) held in Barcelona earlier this year. The outcomes of that conference are proving to be groundbreaking for communications professionals across the globe.

The AMEC declaration of PR measurement standards are known as the Barcelona Principles and are included below:
1 Importance of Goal Setting and Measurement
2. Measuring the Effect on Outcomes is Preferred to Measuring Outputs
3. The Effect on Business Results Can and Should Be Measured Where Possible
4. Media Measurement Requires Quantity and Quality
5. AVEs are not the Value of Public Relations
6. Social Media Can and Should be Measured
7 Transparency and Replicability

To gain more in depth knowledge of the Barcelona Principles, this article from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) in the UK can be found here. Here is another summary from IPR.

The most revolutionary outcome was discontinuing the use of Advertising Value Equivalents (AVEs) when reporting media relations values.  During the webinar, industry pros attempted to answer some key questions concerning the evaluation of public relations campaigns. Specifically, the question many PR professionals ask is, “What are the validated metrics to be used instead of AVEs?”

Worldwide Director of Strategic Services for Hill & Knowlton, Ruth Pestana, presented some valuable visual charts that showcased PR efforts as a continuum beginning with output moving to outcome to impacting business results.

The grid demonstrated a simplified breakdown of PR efforts:
* PR Activity – Communications professionals tell stories and create key messages
* Intermediary – The message gets distributed through a third party to get message across to target audience (OUTPUTS)
* Target Audience Effect – How the consumer is affected by the stories and messages (OUTTAKE and OUTCOMES)

She urged PR professionals to look forward instead of back and to concentrate on evaluating outcome instead of output. She also stresses the importance of looking at each media hit critically when evaluating results. Measure the quality not necessarily quantity of impressions. She feels that AVEs are no longer accurate to use in reporting value because advertising is paid for and always positive. Earned media is uncontrolled and can result in positive, neutral or negative messages. This is why the AMEC feels that PR professionals must focus on how communications messaging is affecting consumer/customer behavior.

In addition, there is a thoughtful article on PRSA Philly Chapter News by Jacob Farbman, M.A. APR, writes why AVEs are no longer viable ways to calculate Return on Investment.

And the debate continues…

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