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July 14, 2010


Chris Morrison

Further to Sean's point, it would definitely be easier to stay silent since we are a company that does currently offer AVE. It has rarely been a suggested metric, but it continues to be one that is requested.

I'm of two minds for AVE. One one hand we offer some very compelling analyses that SHOULD steer most companies away from using it. But on the flip side it has no doubt helped us win business from time-to-time, so guilty as charged for not resisting that temptation. In a perfect world, we would just turn the business away. But as a company who has bootstrapped itself and depends on organic growth, we might be handing over a sale we've been working on for six months to a competitor.

Now, having said we offer AVE doesn't mean we aren't working to move people away from it whenever possible. I don't think it's a completely evil metric if done consistently to show a trend over time, but it is generally a misused metric...which therein lies the main problem. Our strategy to date has been to support AVE, but educate clients as we go along about other more interesting outcome-based metrics. We are starting to really push more and more into outcome based measurements, and as we do I'm confident less and less companies will request AVE. Education about measurement has been one of the biggest struggles since we started as a company, and it's hard to educate if you don't have students to teach.

So, I completely support your push Katie to move our profession away from AVE. I'm hoping your approach will help stop many cold turkey. But we're approaching it from a less radical way of changing opinion on it over time. I'm confident our different strategies on this issue will eventually result in more insightful analysis for the profession as a whole. We're getting closer to that day, I think it might just take a little bit more time and education.

David Geddes

Katie -- I applaud your work to get rid of the bad science, dubious research and false data. This undermines the credibility of PR in general and PR research in particular. Other areas where we are seeing a lot of bad science, dubious research, and false data is the hot area of measuring influence and measuring engagement.


Gaa! The AVE condemnation asks businesses to REMAIN SILENT. Goodness, it's a long time since game theory class...


Katie -- in game theory, this is a prisoner's dilemma.

There are two criminals arrested and separated. Prisoner1 is told that if he confesses, he'll receive a light sentence.

If he keeps silent and the other criminal confesses, Prisoner1 will receive a heavy sentence.

If both confess, they each receive a light sentence. If both remain silent they're free to go.

The best alternative for both prisoners is to remain silent. But each has to trust that the other will remain silent to win the game. Invariably, the prisoners will confess rather than risk staying silent.

The AVE condemnation asks businesses to confess, running the risk that other businesses will offer AVE to clients and steal market share. Even if all existing companies stopped offering AVE, someone would (correctly) note the continued demand and start a company offering AVE. This is a demand-side problem, not a supply side problem, imo.

You're aware of my somewhat conflicted opinions in this regard.

I can't support a boycott -- but will continue the educational campaign, push for more PR education for business people, and strive for better measurement solutions that are as easy to understand as AVE but based on better science.


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