We will only get standards when clients put pressure on vendors to come into compliance.
As we said after The Barcelona Principles, there are only a couple of ways to get people to change their bad public relations measurement and social media measurement habits: fear, greed, or force. Since force isn’t an option (I’m not aware of any military might available to IPR or AMEC -- although we might want to consider inventing a drone that could tag offenders with a "Shame On You" sticker), we probably need to rely on fear and greed.
My solution to getting people to drop AVEs was to urge clients to shun firms that offered them. I also pushed for a rejection of any entry to an awards program that included AVEs. In fairly short order PRSA, AMEC, and PRWeek announced that they would categorically reject any entry that included AVE as a metric.
Interestingly, greed works both ways. Paul Holmes, who had a hand in starting the IPR Measurement Commission 15 years ago, and who has been covering measurement as long as I’ve been doing it, has said that he won’t impose the restriction on his own Sabre Awards because he has children to put through college and the restriction would cost him too much money.
Clearly there are still a lot of PR pros clinging to AVEs as a measure of their success. The best we can hope for in their case is early retirement, since sooner or later the C-suite will see behind the façade and fire them.
As much as I would love to think that the IPR and AMEC have enough real clout to force change on the industry overnight, I realize that it won’t happen, no matter how many stars I wish on. In reality, AVEs and multipliers won’t go away until clients demand a better solution.
The good news is that it is starting to happen. More and more clients are waking up to the silliness of a chart that indicates that the number of impressions you received last month is three times the population of China.
And, frankly, the availability of drill down capabilities that allow clients to examine the items that go into their analysis helps enormously. Clients can now see what is really in the data, and what they see does not make them happy. In one recent case where KDPP was asked by a client to verify some data, we found that 65% of the 50,000 or so items included in a media analysis program were spam, Viagra ads, duplicates, irrelevant, or unqualified. Rumor had it that the client paid over $150,000 for that collection of garbage.
In reality, we will only get standards when clients demand them and put pressure on vendors to come into compliance.
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. Katie and Beth Kanter are authors of the book “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit,” to be published this year by Wiley.
The Measurement Standard is a publication of KDPaine & Partners, a company that delivers custom research to measure brand image, public relationships, and engagement. Katie Paine, CEO of KDPaine & Partners, will be glad to talk with you about measurement for your organization.