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!

Let’s Add In-Depth Numbers to AVE’s

Judging by some of the measurement pieces I’ve read lately, there is still a lot of focus on the AVE debate. I personally think it is time to move beyond the debate. Yes, most of us in PR know that AVE’s are just a prediction of how many people might see your message, and that they don’t allow you to truly evaluate PR’s impact. But, clients and execs still look for AVE data because it is something they understand, something familiar. So what is a PR pro to do? Why not give your clients the AVE info they want, but also provide more in-depth numbers and educate your clients on what they mean. In my experience, AVE’s lose their luster when presented side-by-side with more insightful metrics. So, let’s stop debating and start focusing our energy on educating clients about what data they should be interested in. I think taking this sort of action will produce the desired outcome (the end of AVE’s) most quickly.

Creating universal industry standards for PR measurement

I frequently hear people talking about the lack of universal industry standards for PR measurement.  Would it make it easier to meet the needs of our clients?  I believe to an extent, yes.  We could have a consistent set of terms and expectations for our clients.  But, I also believe the flexibility to measure exactly what a specific client wants and alter that for a different client gives us the freedom to secure meaningful agency and client relationships.  David Geddes recently explored the possibilities and benefits behind industry-wide standards in his blog post, highlighting the ability to learn what works and doesn’t work, the ability to sell firm services and ability to compete based on smart, creative application of the standards.

Clients want to know: How can we improve our PR program?

Lately I’ve been weighing in on some of the different performance questions that clients ask PR teams. In this post I want to examine this topic further, and focus specifically on the following question that clients often ask: How can we improve our PR program?

It doesn’t matter how successful your program has been, at some point your client is going to come to you with a question like:

  • What PR efforts are working? What’s not working?
  • Where can we improve?
  • What can we learn from our competitors?

By knowing the answer to these questions you can keep a step ahead of your clients. That way you won’t be scrambling for answers when pressed for information on how the program can achieve even more. In order to win confidence and support from clients, it is important for agencies to be able to demonstrate forward thinking by effectively communicating fact based answers to questions.

So, if your client wants to know which PR efforts are working and which ones are not, how do you respond in a way that proves you aren’t just shooting from the hip – that you truly understand where you have (or have not) performed well?

Here is what you do: Make a list of the PR activities that were directly responsible for delivering positive results and meeting goals. Analyze your list and try to determine trends or factors that could lead to even greater future successes. Adjust your PR strategy accordingly. Also, make a list of PR activities that did not produce positive results and make plans to adjust or eliminate those activities. 

Here is a sample answer you could give if asked to explain what areas of your PR program are working or not working:

“Based on research and customer feedback we have identified increased product review coverage as a driving factor behind the 125% sales increase we saw last quarter. The team worked to increase total product reviews by 200%, securing a total of 48 product reviews worldwide. Since we have found evidence to suggest that nearly 1/3 of last quarter’s sales were influenced by product reviews, we plan to continue an aggressive push to achieve coverage that consists of at least 35% product reviews.”

“Conversely, our data shows that the customer referral program was only responsible for generating 2% of all sales this quarter. We are looking at making changes to how we promote the referral program in order to make it more enticing.”

Since evaluating what is and isn’t working requires looking at a number of different activities and factors, you absolutely want to have charts, graphs and other reports on-hand for your clients to view. This will help clients visualize the results you are reporting, along with the plan you’re laying out for future efforts.

If you are committed to getting the best results from PR, you should know what PR efforts are – and are not – working long before you’re confronted by a client. The only way to know this is by measuring and analyzing your PR efforts on an ongoing basis. Then, when the client does ask, it just becomes a matter of communicating your findings and showing your client some supporting data.

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