Top 5 Ways to Stop Clients from Using AVEs

Okay.  So the PR pros at your agency know how wrong AVEs are.  That they DO NOT measure the value of PR and our No AVEs imageindustry as a whole has abolished them.  So what do you do about the client that insists that AVEs be used for their campaign?  Do you provide a totally inaccurate, non industry supported value that you don’t even believe in yourself?  I don’t think so.  I know it is hard, when clients are firm in their requests (stubborn), but we do have to gently stand up for what we believe as the best way to measure the value of PR.  So let’s take a look at 5 ways you can take a stand against AVEs while educating your clients on the best measurement practices.

1.  Explain that the industry AND your agency do not use AVEs anymore.  It turns out that they do not measure the value of PR accurately at all.

2.  Provide them with the best articles you can find that explain the reasoning behind this decision.

  • Do it as a short , visually appealing slide show presentation during one of your meetings
  • E-mail them short articles over a period of time
  • Take your client to lunch and discuss the issue with a handout to highlight the main points

3.  Explain how successful it has been to approach PR measurement in a new way.  Using other clients as an example.

4.  Ask if they would be willing to try something new.  Then work with them on how to come up with clear company objectives that can be connected with clear measurement outcomes.

5.  Show them the benefits of measuring continuously during a campaign so adjustments can be made as you go.

6.  Introduce the “funnel approach” to them.  Explaining that they want to ideally walk their customers through a funnel that leads from:  Awareness — >  Knowledge –>  Interest –>  Support  –> Action

7.  Come up with ways to link PR activities to PR results that have a dollar value.  For example:  total sales/sales leads/savings from reduced complaints.

I believe if you can get them to try this approach with their next PR campaign, that they will be sold on how it makes more sense.  Not only that, it will help them to make adjustment along the way and to understand what works and what doesn’t work for their particular goal.  Then… you can officially kiss those nasty AVEs goodbye!


The “YES Measurement” Top 10

It is easy to come up with excuses not to do something that can be confusing and take lots of work.  Like PR measurement, for example.  There is no easy, clear cut way to do it.  So why bother.  In fact, here are the top 10 reasons that Ketchum Global Research and Analytics have given as to why PR pros choose to shy away from this big task.

top 10 no measurement

Although some of these reasons may be slightly legitimate, let’s focus today on why we should take the time and effort to measure PR.  Here is my:

“Yes Measurement” Top 10

  1. Clients and execs want proof that PR works.

  2. Gives insights on how to improve/adjust PR campaigns.

  3. Allows PR pros to give smart PR recommendations.

  4. Shows the big picture of what works and what doesn’t.

  5. Helps PR department give valuable insights into business decisions.

  6. To see where you stand against the competition.

  7. Takes the guesswork out of PR.

  8. Gives legitimacy for more PR budget dollars.

  9. There are more PR measurement tools available now more than ever.

  10. With online measurement we get immediate feedback.

I think if you take a hard look at my top 10, you will realize that PR measurement is like putting on a pair of prescription glasses for the first time.  It brings clarity, understanding and precise knowledge that before was very fuzzy, vague and confusing.  Once you have experienced what it is like to really see, do you still walk around without your glasses on?  Of course not.  We love being able to see with clarity.  The same holds true with PR measurement.  Once you find the right analytics for you, you won’t want to go back.  It is taking that plunge to really get serious about PR measurement that is hard.  If you need help taking that plunge, I would be happy to answer any questions you have.

Make Today’s PR Better With Meaningful Metrics

Do you ever wonder if your PR measurement could tell a clearer more meaningful story?  Do you ever get the feeling from clients and executives that PR is too vague in delivering the results they are looking for?  I think we have all experienced this feeling…I know I have.  One reason this has occurred in the past is because of lack of proper tools to measure PR results.  Many times we knew that our PR efforts were making a difference, but there was no proof.  It was hard to track which customers made a store purchase because they read a great article in the newspaper about that particular store.  Today we still struggle.  But it is not because of lack of tools.  Because much of PR is done online with Facebook, website content, Twitter, e-commerce, blogs, etc.; measurement and data ARE available.  It is just a matter of finding the right tools to help us reach our goals as well as the right tools for measuring the results.  With new tools and technology changing almost everyday… this can be a confusing process.  Thankfully we have our colleagues to help us see through the confusion!  If you could use some clarity about getting clearer PR results, you will want to check out Gini Dietrich’s post on How to Measure PR.


I want to highlight 3 main points from Gini’s post that I think are really worth taking a look at.

  1. Combine Online Analytics with Internal Data-  Gini points out that PR agencies must take advantage of their clients’ internal data such as e-mail marketing and e-commerce software to get deeper results.  This works if you do corporate PR as well.  Just be sure to share internal data between departments.  For example, when you are able to track who reads your content via e-mail and how many of those eventually visited the e-commerce website you can make a connection between PR and revenue.
  2. “We DO NOT track Facebook Fans, Twitter followers, YouTube viewers, or Klout scores” – What?  Really?  But it makes my client so happy to see how many Facebook fans we have!  They might make your client happy, but the verdict is still out as to whether these numbers are important at all.  Do they really give a very clear picture of PR’s impact?  Gini managed to give a great example of how PR had a direct result on revenue and it didn’t include any “fans or followers”.
  3. Use the Funnel Approach – Gini gives an example of being able to measure and guide potential customers through a funnel of interaction with the client.  This makes it possible to set clear goals and to create a simple formula to reach them.  In Gini’s example, she sets 3 goals.  #1- get potential customers to a free trial landing page #2- get potential customers to accept a free trial  #3 -get potential customer to become a customer.  As you track this process through the funnel, you can create a simple formula that includes how many webinar participants or white paper readers proceeded to the free trial and eventually made their way down the funnel.  With this information at her disposal she can deliver real results to her client.

Let this post inspire you to use the right tools to deliver specific results for your clients unique goals.  Today’s PR is requiring some real knowledge of the technology and tools available as well as some out of the box thinking.  As Gini points out Today’s PR is becoming more like “science and math, combined with art, and it works really, really well.”  Please share your approaches to measuring “PR of today” and what tools have worked well for you and your clients.

How Diligently Tracking PR Agency Time Brings Insights

There seems to be a debate out there about how closely PR pros should track their hours, whether they should charge clients for every single hour, should they use the retainer model or do a hybrid of both.  According to Ken Jacobs and George Rosenberg regardless of how you bill your clients, your time tracking must be as accurate and inclusive as possible.  Gini Dietrich writes about how these PR gurus, in a recent workshop on profitability in PR, point out the value of understanding exactly how long it takes to do something and how much time is actually allocated to different tasks and clients.  This information is essential for planning, making adjustments and increasing profits.  It is so easy to slack off on tracking hours, just doing it when it is convenient.  So take this as a gentle reminder, that tracking hours accurately is extremely important to the success of your agency.time tracking image

Gini’s post goes on to point out how to use time tracking to make smarter budget predictions, and it shows the steps required to accurately determine projected client billing.  For most PR pros (especially those of us that don’t particularly love math) this post is very helpful.  How would you like a better understanding of which clients are profitable and which ones aren’t?  How about better insight on how to create a realistic budget for a new client – one that you won’t exceed?  Wouldn’t it also be helpful to know how the PR staff’s time is spent each day, and which PR activities are most effective?  If these are insights you need but don’t have, then I suggest putting more attention toward tracking hours.

Once you start looking at time tracking as an important and valuable tool, then you can apply your new insights to make well-informed business decisions and make adjustments.  If you find out that one client in particular is dominating the hours of your staff and their budget doesn’t coincide, then it is time to take some sort of action.  You may need to recommend a different approach to the client that demands less time, or adjust the budget for next year to more closely reflect the number of hours spent.  Addressing the issue may be difficult, but avoid it and your agency and staff will pay.

Knowing the true number of hours spent per client is eye opening.  Don’t we all think that it takes us less time to accomplish a task than it really does?

Is That PR Meeting Really Necessary?

To Do List

Imagine being at the office, you are on a roll, crossing items off your to-do list left and right.  You spend some quality time analyzing recent media trend data and are able to find some great insights.  Then you finish putting together your data-driven media recommendations for next quarter, complete with an attractive report that explains how your coverage compares to your competition.  All this accomplished in one day with no interruptions!  Has that ever happened to you?  I’m going to go out on a limb and guess probably not…mainly because of the “no interruptions” part.

I recently viewed a TED Talks video in which Jason Fried explains how most people don’t have hours of uninterrupted time at work to truly work.  He goes on to say that the main reason for interruptions at work are meetings and managers.  This got me thinking and I decided to do a Google search for “meetings waste of time.” The search returned 18,800,000 results, proving the matter of meetings being too long, too often & too unproductive is definitely an issue.  If you have 15 minutes, I encourage you to watch Mr. Fried’s talk, it contains several interesting points.  Of course, if your schedule is too meeting-filled to squeeze in a viewing, here are his 3 final points.

Jason Fried’s 3 Tips For Getting Work Done

1.  He encourages managers to schedule long amounts of non-interrupted time for employee’s to really focus and get some work done.  For example “No Talk Thursday Afternoon”.

Imagine 4 hours of silence so you can really focus.  I like that idea – can I enforce it at home too?  Jason points out that human beings are much more productive and creative when we have long stretches of uninterrupted time.

2. Use e-mail and instant messaging instead of meetings and live discussions so employees can read your message when it is convenient for them.

This idea has its merits for some things that need to be communicated, but there are some discussions that are much easier to do in person.  Sometimes I think communication is clearer when you can see the person’s expression and get immediate feedback.  And what if I need something ASAP? I say use this suggestion when it makes sense.

3.  Cancel a Meeting and See What Happens.

It isn’t plausible  to cancel all meetings.  But it is worth a shot to cancel one and see what happens.  Did more work get done?  Did important information get communicated without a face-to-face meeting?  Were employees able to provide updates in other ways that took less time?  There is an article on the Leadership Strategies website called, Let’s Not Meet, and it is a great resource for determining whether or not a meeting can be cancelled. It also gives ideas on what to do instead of getting together for an in-person meeting.

I’d like to add one final tip of my own that I found here:

4.  Shake Things Up By Conducting a Walking Meeting

I don’t know if you will get more work done, but a walking meeting will certainly be more interesting than sitting around a boardroom table.  Plus, it is a great way to get your blood pumping and break up the monotony of your work day.

PR pros, give me your suggestions about being more efficient at work or how to reduce meeting time and frequency.  I would love to find out what works for your organization.

How to Get From PR Measurement Data to Insight

I have mentioned countless times in my blog that it is important to analyze data so that you can extract information that pertains to your company’s goals and objectives.  But I often wonder if the word “analyze” could use a more detailed explanation.  For a list maker like me, “analyze” seems like too big of a step to just cross off my list, which means we may need to break it down a bit.  The dictionary defines analyze as:  “to examine carefully and in detail so as to identify causes, key factors, possible results, etc.”  It can be somewhat obscure to talk about analyzing data as the next step after collecting it.  But, how does one go about actually doing it?  Well, I found a very helpful marketing post that articulates the major challenge of getting from the collected data stage to insight.  Laura Patterson does a great job in her post, “More Data Does Not Equal Better Insights” of laying out what really needs to happen in the analyzing stage so that we end up with insights that give us the power to see and act.  Her post deals with marketing data in general, but I feel this translates to PR measurement data as well.


1.  Collect Data

2.  Analyze it

  1. Visualize trends….
  2. Discuss patterns…
  3. Articulate one insight…
  4. Incubate insights…
  5. Do insights resonate?

3.  Report Insights

Laura argues that data cannot give us value until we glean patterns, trends and anomalies from it.  This is easier to do when we present our results visually.  This is the first step in analyzing.  As our dictionary definition pointed out, analyzing involves careful examination in detail – so don’t expect it to be fast or easy.  In Patterson’s 5 step process of analyzing I noticed a few things that suggest that it is just that, a process.  It is a team effort that involves lots of discussion, possible insights, taking time away and then revisiting and presenting to others.  It sure is nice to attach a 5 step process to something as obscure as analyzing.  It makes the trip from data to insight much more focused and purposeful.  I know it is helpful for those of us who love to make lists and cross off the steps as we go!

Please let me know if you feel this 5 step process is as helpful for PR data as it is for generic marketing data.  Do you have any other suggestions to help break down the analyzing step?

An End to the PR Measurement Standards Debate?

It is official, PR Week announced that it is encouraging PR professionals to abandon the search for a single definitive method of PR measurement and adopt a set of measurement guidelines that are defined in a newly released industry guide. PR Week’s The PR Professionals Definitive Guide to Measurement  provides common principles that seem to build from the Barcelona Principles.  The guide’s simple format breaks down each topic by chapter.  With a mouse click you can explore topics such as:  A Step-By-Step Approach to PR Measurement, Measurement Options and Why PR Measurement is Important. So, will this be the new PR measurement bible?

Over the past 20 years PR pros have debated about whether the PR industry should develop standards for PR measurement.  Progress was made in 2010 when representatives from nearly 150 companies around the world voted on seven specific principles that set a baseline for how to measure PR – what’s good, what’s better, what’s best, and what’s bad.  These principles have been termed the Barcelona Principles.  But the creation of these principles didn’t stop the debate.  Many PR pros were still looking for a “toolkit of consistent, reliable, and comparable metrics that would allow practitioners to work more efficiently” as stated by David Geddes in his blog post about setting standards. Many people believed there was one “right” way to evaluate PR, and everyone in the industry should use that method or metric. But, since no one could agree on a perfect formula, the industry has been given a set of rules to follow and must decide how to put them into action.

So now what?  Is this guide the answer PR pros have been looking for?  Will this new set of measurement guidelines provide the consistency and reliability that the industry has been searching for?  I would love to hear your opinion on this topic!  Take a good look at the PR industry’s new guide and let me know what you think.

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