There's a reason they say that well behaved women rarely make history. There seems to be a large body of people who think I've been naughty of late with my previous post and my stand on The Barcelona Principles. So first let me say thank you to all who have joined this debate. So far the Anti-AVE crowd is winning the battle, with by far the most comments, tweets and retweets expressing support or even surprise that there is even a debate on the topic. Secondly, to the rest of you, I'm sorry you're offended/appalled/or think I'm rude, but I'm trying to save my profession (and yes, maybe make some history.)
By far the most controversial part of this debate is my suggestion on making the Barcelona Principles real -- in other words, give them some teeth so finally practices will change. That means rejecting award entrants that use them, and rejecting companies that provide them. While I apologize to my good friends at all the various clipping agencies and PR firms that think that this false metric is still "necessary" --i.e. they're still making money selling some form of it, or justifying their existances with it, I will not apologize for calling for action on this topic. For more than two decades my peers have bad-mouthed the metric, while continuing to provide it saying that "the client demands it." And my respsone has been, if the client demanded drugs would you provide them just to get the business?
If people called AVEs what they are -- bad science, dubious research and false data -- I bet your clients would at least listen to some alternatives. And if you presented it that way to the Accounting or Legal department, I'm sure they'd drop the notion like a hot potato.
The way I explained it to a distraught PR person that I had just refused to help on this issue -- Do you really think that a stack of clippings is the "value" that you and your peers bring to this client? Of course not. The value in this case is in the increased traffic to the web site that yields increased revenue to the organization.
Lets face it, the industry used AVEs because they were easy, readily provided at the top of every clip if you bought them from a cliping agency. And clipping agencies promoted them because it's a good revenue stream in an era when the whole idea of "clippings" appears increasingly quaint.
But if we as a profession are going to be taken seriously, and we're going to stick to our Barcelona Principles, then we need to do what is right, not what is easy.
And that requires breaking eggs, not walking on eggshells.