We had an interesting Twitter engagement with the Queen of Metrics, Katie Paine, last week. I have followed Katie’s work and incorporated her measurement principles since my early days in PR, 20 some years ago (eek!). When it comes to PR measurement, Katie knows her stuff and she can often be found on the speaking circuit tirelessly trying to educate the PR industry on the importance of quality measurement in PR.

Katie is also a big supporter of the Barcelona Principles, and SeeDepth’s Twitter engagement was based on this tweet by our staff:


The resulting exchange continued to discuss why brands and CMOs are still asking for Ad Value Equivalency (AVE) counts in results. Katie assures us that dozens of organizations have implemented Barcelona compliant measurement, and that vendors and agencies are the ones foot-dragging.

So why is that? True to Katie’s assessment, we’ve noticed that many of our competitors are still offering AVEs as a metric in their reporting, and we find it baffling. We do not measure AVEs and we never will. We are, like Katie and many others, trying to help educate the PR industry to move away from “comfy” but meaningless metrics like AVEs and circulation. We’ve espoused on this topic before.

So the question is, why are so many PR measurement and analytics vendors, who should be helping to innovate the industry, still focused on reporting meaningless metrics? More importantly, why do brands continue to track “success” through such metrics when technology and data have evolved how we can really measure impact? The PR industry is advancing and although vendors can charge money to deliver such reports, if they’re really intent on moving the industry forward, they won’t.

Just. Say. No. No more AVEs. No more “measurement” of just outputs (those status reports telling you what a PR team did, instead of what actually happened as a result) or “possibilities.” We have a chance to elevate PR’s credibility if we would just focus on its actual business impact. It’s not easy changing years of reporting habits but it can be done. Just look at how social media has evolved the way we communicate, handle crisis communications and engage with brand advocates and detractors.

Katie does a great job outlining that “many of the companies and organizations that so energetically wave the PR industry standards flag in their self-interest” will not sign her pledge to support those standards (we did last year). Why is that? She takes a look, in her post, “Measurement Menaces” which covers what she calls “hypocrisy of vendors and agencies who are two-faced on measurement standards.”

We believe the industry still has a long way to go. We talk to PR agencies and brand communications leaders daily who do not know what the Barcelona Principles are, and therefore cannot purposefully adhere to any standards. We’re focused on helping the industry to continue to care about standards in the first place, and adhere to them by providing a tool that makes it easier. Our Campaign Performance Index score, for example, helps with goal setting.

To ensure your longevity in a rapidly-changing industry that’s embracing data more than ever before, you’ll be well served to ensure that you work with vendors that walk the walk when it comes to PR measurement and industry standards. Together, we can help increase PR’s credibility, respect and strategic value.

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