Advertising Value Equivalency (AVEs) has been a common metric to assign financial value to public relations (PR) output.
However, if you think about it, the concept of AVE to measure PR performance is not only highly inaccurate but the two are apparently incompatible. In fact, in 2010, PR leaders drafted a set of principles in Barcelona to provide the industry with good measurement guidelines and it was clearly advocated that AVE is Not the value of PR.
Public Relations could be briefly summarized as a profession that involves the building and maintaining of an organization’s reputation and relationships through the management of communication. Hence, the actual value of Public Relations cannot be directly connected to monetary returns, or at least not immediately. Public Relations programmes simply cannot be linked to sales or revenue, rather, Public Relations is an investment in the brand that could ideally translate into increased positive brand recognition and support.
That considered, organizations that are adamant about using AVE to justify the existence of Public Relations are simply lacking the understanding of the purpose and potential of Public Relations. Take for example media relations as part of a Public Relations programme. To many organizations, the more press coverage obtained the better, especially if the coverage obtained occupies a large surface area on a particular publication(AVE).
On the contrary, media relations is in fact a tactic that is applied in Public Relations to put across an intended message to a targeted audience. If any measurement were to be done, it would have to involve a survey of the public’s perception before and after a media relations campaign. Only then would it be possible to identify the success of the Pub;ic Relations campaign in reaching out to the targeted public and instilling these messages within them.
Then there is Social Media? How would you think AVE fares on that platform?