February 2016. The second month of a new year and I’ve been confronted by a rare piece of utterly outdated opinion purporting to be best practice from a respected vendor. What’s got under my skin? An ‘Outside Insight’ penned by Robert Wynne for Meltwater on the evergreen topic of PR Measurement. Go Google it – I’m not going to promote it more than I am already by penning this.
In its 26 pages, Robert Wynne seeks to promote the benefits of Advertising Value Equivalency as “our most tangible way of understanding PR’s value” thereby going against the flow of worldwide industry opinion. Mr. Wynne has impeccable credentials; he writes for Forbes on the topic of PR and is both an academic and practicing communications adviser.
But for all that, he is promulgating outdated views, using arguments for the validity of AVEs that we had hoped, had long since been put to bed. His thesis is based on the simplistic assumption that we must compare PR directly to advertising (“Apples to Apples”) and that clients are used to comparing marketing investments based on budget and perceived value and therefore PR must have a monetary value attributed to it.
In much of the white paper, Mr. Wynne applies his knowledge and experience to the promotion and support of public relations the discipline. What is so surprising therefore is his explicit disagreement about the core principle behind the Barcelona Principles – that AVEs do not measure the value of public relations.
With multiple professional bodies endorsing the Barcelona Principles and the continued work of AMEC and its members to refine the AMEC Measurement Framework, Mr. Wynne’s opinions seem to be oddly out of step with the industry he writes about. But more importantly, his article does not explain the method by which he arrives at the proposed AVE equation. Nor has he explained the factors behind the multiplier of five that is used in his ‘Manhattan Beach Principles”. He does not explore the changes in the media landscape; the social media landscape; and the changes in how brands use paid media. In short, Mr. Wynne seems to have turned the clock back to 2012 or earlier – a fact reflected in the age of some of the quotes he has used to support his arguments.
So c’mon Meltwater and Mr. Wynne. Why not get behind the industry and embrace the new world of integrated communications. Get behind the efforts, not just of AMEC, but the industry worldwide to promote best practice in communications measurement. The longer we push outdated views around AVEs, the longer we’ll be having conversations with clients about this discredited and ultimately ineffective method of measurement.