In world over today, the importance of measurement can never be over emphasized. According to the world acclaimed scientist, Galilee Galileo, “Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so.” In recent times, measuring PR effectiveness is being overhauled with the establishment of the Barcelona Principles and dispensing with outmoded (and possibly harmful) methods like AVE. But will the industry, especially locally, make the shift?
This is a multimillion dollarquestion that is still begging for answer. AMEC (the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication)held its first ever Measurement Week from 15- 19 September,2014 to educate communications and public relations practitioners about the latest best-practices in measuring the effectiveness of their communications and reputation campaigns. AMEC is the global trade body and professional institute for agencies and practitioners who provide media evaluation and communication research.
With more than 50 events on six continents, AMEC CEO, Barry Leggetter, hailed the success of this ground-breaking event, being the biggest ever media measurement educational exercise held globally. Since AMEC launched the Barcelona Principles of Measurement in 2010, the organization has continued to promote these best practices in media measurement.
The USC Annenberg’s Generally Accepted Practices (GAP) for Public Relations study found that spending on communication measurement increased from 4% to 9% as part of US PR budgets between 2009 and 2012. However, up to 80% of respondents claimed that their communications budget remained flat or was even decreasing. Clearly, public relations practitioners need to provide better measurement of ROI on their activities as budgets tighten.
“The ‘how’ of PR measurement has long been established. What is lacking is the widespread adoption of these techniques. This failure undermines public relations as a business discipline. AMEC’s Measurement Week has been established to help fill that gap.
“This could be the most exciting initiative from AMEC since we founded the Barcelona Principles framework,” says David Rockland, the outgoing Chairman of AMEC, adding: “Our aim is to get not only AMEC members but the communications and marketing industries behind it.”
Ornico recently became the first African organisation to be awarded full AMEC membership, and hosted the first ever official AMEC events on the continent: breakfast talks with communications experts in both Kenya and South Africa, as part of Measurement Week.
In an era that has seen financial crises, the rise of social media and global strife, it is the intangible or ‘soft’ company assets such as /97 reputation, goodwill, employee and customer relations, CSI and green initiatives that are now being recognised for their true value. This applies to all businesses and organizations— and even countries—but most public relations and communications specialists, who are entrusted with building these intangibles and changing perceptions are unable to quantify the value of their work.
Communication practitioners have long bemoaned the fact that business executives do not understand the value of public relations exercises, as compared to ‘above-the-line’ advertising campaigns, which have a longer history of demonstrating return on investment (ROI) – flawed as that may be.
However, that historic measurement metrics, such as AVE (Advertising Value Equivalency), which remains popular with many public relations practitioners, are indeed recognized as a poor measure of value by marketing executives – hence their skepticism. It must be highlighted that AVE is a measurement of cost (e.g. how much it would have cost to buy the editorial space based on advertising rate-card prices), rather than an indication of value, or impact. In other words, was the objective of the communication achieved and to what extent?
The practice by communicators to multiply AVE by an arbitrary factor to try and indicate the ‘PR Value’ has also been discredited. This practice may be damaging to the communications industry. Weiner and Bartholomew argue in their 2006 paper ‘Dispelling the Myth of PR Multipliers and Other Inflationary Audience Measures’ that there is no known objective research to support the use of these multipliers, which can see an AVE being multiplied by a factor of anything from 2.5 to 10. As Weiner and Bartholomew put it: “Many reputable researchers believe the use of multipliers may tend towards being unethical and dishonest.”
Despite the popularity of AVE, AMEC’s new measurement standards, as dictated by the Barcelona Principles, are quickly gaining traction around the world, with 120 organisations across 41 countries now being members. The principles have also been endorsed and accepted by the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America), ICCO (International Communications Consultancy), IPR (Institute for Public Relations) and many other global organisations and businesses such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, The UK Government, NATO and NGOs like CARE International. In line with global practices, PR agencies and Brands need a PR measurement service, because clips count, AVE and impressions are no longer the basis for ROI for spending on PR.
In Nigeria, like most part of the African continent, proper PR measurement and the Barcelona Principles are still unfamiliar territory for the majority of PR agencies, as the use of AVE is still widely practised.
The time to change to the acceptable international standards is NOW because the clients are daily asking for justification for their PR budget.
ABOUT PHLIP ODIAKOSE
Philip Odiakose who was quoted in the Ornico 2014 Media Report, is an expert in Media Measurement, Monitoring & Evaluation. He has worked on brands like: – Afrinvest, Diamond Bank Plc, MoneyGram, Heritage Bank, Cadbury,RenMoney (Formerly RenCredit), Nigeria Breweries, Campari, Chicken Republic, South African Tourism (SAT), South African Airways (SAA), Blue Gate, AVON HMO, Tetmosol, Alpha Mead (AM) Facility & Management Services, OSMI (Broadcast Right Owner of World Cup in Nigeria) and Orange Academy. He has also worked with top Agencies in Nigeria, where he was responsible for functions ranging from media measurement, market & media research, mobile campaign, project management just to mention only a few, he is a proponent of the AMEC PR measurement techniques and the Barcelona Principle.