One of the most controversial and disputed measurements in PR is Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE), which simplistically takes the advertising cost of a particular media and equate it to an “equivalency” in advocacy and reputation. This approach became outdated due to the following:

  • Lack the value of Credibility;
  • Treats placement simply as “paid advertising”, which is wrong;
  • Does not address quality of content relative to Tone and Size;
  • Does not address Reader or Audience Reach;
  • Does not compare fairly to circulation versus population and GDP (PPP) per capita, consumer spending %, relative to other related media, etc.
  • Does not factor in the heterogeneity of nations relative to media, language, and outreach.

How, then, can PR measurement be more realistic and more equitable to clients, agencies, media, and cross-border national comparisons?

PR campaigns are today cross-border, and often, managers have to understand what kind of effectiveness are in each nation they deploy PR campaigns in. And yet, each nation brings to the table various variables, such as population, GDP (which has a relative value to consumer spending), percentage of consumer spending by GDP, total number of equivalent media in that nation, circulation of particular media, campaign length, and so on.

Advertising value equivalence (AVE) is a rudimentary and grossly inaccurate measurement of PR effectiveness that still has some use, but should be calculated in conjunction with all the variables together. The derivative value is not strictly a dollar value, but a fairer indicator once managers begin to compare and peg national PR effectiveness by campaign.

Therefore, a fair PR effectiveness can be measured against the backdrop of all the following factors:

  • Media Cost
  • Circulaton or Audience
  • Tone of coverage (positive, negative, neutral)
  • Size of mention (feature, quote, or name mention)
  • GDP PPP per capita and consumer spending against population
  • Number of equivalent media (e.g. 1 English coverage in a newspaper against total 10 similar newspapers)
  • Length of campaign
  • Campaign cost
  • Analytics of target market effects

Before you get mired in controversial and unequal measurements of “apples and oranges” in your PR campaigns in the future, perhaps it is time to create a better measurement system to discern just how effective your regional, national, or global campaigns are, with a fuller set of indicators. It will be more work, but certainly the results would make more analytical and financial sense.