• About this time last year we released a white paper heralding the death of AVE and PEV in PR, which, not surprisingly created a lot of interest, and indeed got some positive coverage in PR Week, so it was amusing to see in last week’s issue, a whole new set of the industry’s great and good once again wringing their hands over the sad challenge of proving value, and debating whether PEV should be three, five or even ten times as much value as the equivalent ad space.

      We don’t subscribe to absolute measurement based on story length, because it fails to look at the impact value, and all too often gives misleading results as to the real vale of the work.

      For example, right now BP’s press coverage over the last three months is getting massively high scores in AVE and PEV terms, but as soon as you add in any kind of qualitative evaluation, the numbers do a complete about turn.

      However, measuring the impact value of an article isn’t simple – you need to consider a wide bunch of factors such as the relevance of the medium, the way the article is pitched, the tone of voice, the detail of the content and a number of other cogent points.

      While  some agencies like ourselves do use a detailed set of factors to calculate a notional value, the vast majority simply don’t have the skill set or the processes and systems to perform these complex evaluations, so clients are forced to rely on a simple, and wholly inaccurate metric.

      But still the need to justify the PR expenditure rumbles on, simply because while everyone agrees that good PR is the best value, no-one quite agrees on just how you evaluate it, which gets a tad tricky when trying to justify the case for PR vs other marketing dollars to a cynical CFO.

      Sometimes not quantifying is a good way to look at it. Over the weekend a friend of mine who is both a seasoned marketeer and a keen fisherman summed it up beautifully- “it’s like spreading bait on the water before you cast the line – it won’t get you a bite immediately, but it sure makes them more interested in checking out your hook.”

      Not sure how that would sit with the board though!