Sex in the City and Ragan’s PR Daily receive our Measurement Menace of the Month Award for promoting make-believe public relations.
I read a disturbing post the other day on the Samantha Effect. It suggests that a surge in applications for PR programs in higher education is driven by interest in the glamorous life of Samantha Jones, a character on Sex in the City.
Thousands of the show’s young fans have been Carried away by the alluring yet utterly fictitious career of Samantha, who owns her own PR agency. To them, the PR profession appears to be a series of fun parties and events, requiring only a pair of Jimmy Choo heels, a little black dress, and a “people personality” for success.
How do you measure that? AVEs, according to Ragan’s PR Daily.
I’ve never met Jessica Epperly, but judging from her recent piece in Ragan’s PR Daily, her role model is Samantha Jones. “Advertising vs. PR: How to measure the value of editorial coverage” has no more credibility than Samantha’s career.
Need more proof? The very first comment on Jessica’s piece was from Lauren, a journalism student at the University of Missouri, who says, “This article has taught me more than most of my professors.” Shame on those professors if a publicist’s puff piece full of inaccurate information can replace classes at a leading educational institution.
What is up with Ragan running such a piece? You know and I know that AVEs are bad, and that every reputable organization, PR firm, and measurement provider has signed onto the Barcelona Principles (which discredit the use and practice of comparing PR to advertising). So why did Ragan run it? Don’t they vet anything?
In fairness to the folks at Ragan, the brouhaha that erupted in the comment section did prompt Ragan to solicit an oped from my colleague Shonali Burke who urged us to consign AVEs to the graveyard. (See also Chuck Hemann's response to that article, with many excellent comments. And if you’d like to learn more about AVEs, we have plenty of coverage here at The Measurement Standard. Start with “AVEs Are Porn for PR,” then see the list here.)
Finally, this issue raises an interesting question about the media that cover our industry: What is—and should be—the role of the media in the coverage of PR? Is it to follow the guidance of the leaders of the industry and help lead the profession to a higher plane? (As PR Week did when they banned the use of AVEs as a metric in their annual award submissions.) Or is it to serve the lowest common denominator by recommending a fictional measurement tool?
Our purpose here at The Measurement Standard is to encourage people to base decisions on reality. And so we award both Sex in the City and Ragan’s PR Daily our Menace of the Month Award, for promoting make-believe public relations.
Katie Delahaye Paine is CEO of KDPaine & Partners, a company that delivers custom research to measure brand image, public relationships, and engagement. Katie Paine is a dynamic and experienced speaker on public relations and social media measurement. Click here for the schedule of Katie’s upcoming speaking engagements.