On the back of a new set of principles by which the global PR profession is being encouraged to relinquish the use of AVE (Advertising Value Equivalent) as a campaign measurement tool, it is clear that ad-hoc justification of PR in terms of the equivalent cost of media advertising is no longer an approved measure of PR.
So defining objectives from the outset of any communications activity is a crucial part of a successful and lasting client-consultancy relationship. These are the new Barcelona principles* upon which best practice campaign planning are now based:
- Measurement and goal setting are fundamental to any PR programme
- Media measurement requires quantity and quality measures
- AVE are not the value of PR
- Social media should be measured
- Measuring outcomes is preferable to measuring outputs
- Business results can and should be measured wherever possible
- Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement
[*Barcelona Principles CIPR Research, Planning & Measurement Toolkit]
Achieving successful results begins with successful planning.
Having a brief for work to be carried out isn't just about the 'what'? It's also about the 'why'? The right market/sector information puts the PR requirements into the correct context and ensures that activity is not carried out for the sake of it.
I seek to understand how PR objectives relate to a client's wider objectives. Put simply, "what will success look like for your organisation?" In the 'new media' landscape in which we do business, defining consumers and customers as audiences that receive messages has also evolved to embrace advocates, participants and communities who proactively give feedback and engage in conversations, whether we invite them to or not.
Looking at what has worked before and what didn't is fruitful and helps to set benchmarks for the future but reinventing the wheel for the sake of it is not.
Then there is the question of how PR is to be integrated with other marketing activities so timing is right. Setting the rules for engagement, such as budgets and response timeframes avoids misunderstanding or nasty surprises further down the line.
Return on investment with respect to PR activity can then be seen in terms of meaningful and specific outcomes.