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July 22, 2010


Jean Creech Avent

So the question comes down to are you measuring strategy (outcomes) or tactics (outputs)? Perhaps the profession is way too focused on tactics instead of pulling the camera back and focusing on understanding from an operational and financial standpoint where an organization is going and then measuring the KPIs that lead to success. We've been building out an index focused on customer relationships, for example. The Customer Relationship Index is for benchmarking http://www.orgprllc.com/CRI.aspx

Public relations is a strategic management function, let's not forget that. The reason we seek comments, quotes, or profiles in publications like the Financial Times is because those readers are of strategic value to our company or clients' companies.

If the profession loses sight that it ties tightly to overall corporate strategy, it will never advance.

Ed Moed

These are words of wisdom. I’ve always believed that AVE means nothing. You’ve inspired me to write my own follow up post about this subject: http://www.measuringupblog.com/measuring_up/2010/07/barcelona-in-the-summer-is-very-nice.html

Pablo Edwards


Way to stand up for yourself and your ability to be a bold leader in this industry. I think you are spot on! Keep up the great work!


Jack says, "Good products that are well priced will sell."

If good products are going to sell anyway, then perhaps they don't need PR at all.

Undermining the entire basis for your profession? That's the consequence of not tying business outcomes to your PR work.

Todd Van Hoosear


Just a side note in the discussion, really, but I sat on the "best-of-show" committee for a major regional PR awards program and find it interesting and relevant that we chose as the winner the one submission that had no numbers in it at all, but which best represented the real value of PR as the industry tries to keep up with a general trend toward disintermediation: the ability to help an organization make strategic decisions in the interest of the company and its publics.

Try calculating the AVE on that! PR spend justification won't help agencies prevent the loss of business to social CRM and social media management platforms that has already started -- if there's no strategy and value-add, that money might just be better spent elsewhere.

Nigel Sarbutts

I've read the original posting and I think that it's unfortunate that his argument has got lost in some emotion and I'd be pretty irked if I was on the end of those comments.

I applaud the intention and effort of Barcelona but the end product is, frankly, awful and the recent comments from some participants, which imply that the death of AVE is upon us have no basis in fact and sound even slightly smug. To have people who promote rigourous evidence based decisions jump to these conclusions so soon seems rather ironic.
The Barcelona principles are narrow, yet vague, could have been written 10 years ago (with the exception of one fleeting nod to social media)and offer no value to any organisation that is (purposefully or igonorantly) using flaky methods like AVE.
AVE refuses to die for the simple reason that nobody has come up with something with more appeal. (Note: that's appeal, not better). Barcelona certainly isn't it, all it has given us is a better way of defining what's poor practice.

David Geddes

Katie – Even Jack’s baseball analogy is off the mark. Anyone who has read Michael Lewis’ Moneyball knows that baseball general managers have moved away from traditional baseball metrics (home runs, batting average, etc. ... the baseball equivalent to clip counting) to a much more sophisticated understanding of the many ways in which a player contributes to winning. For an advanced approach, read Wayne Winston’s excellent book, for numbers geeks at least, Mathletics (http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8969.htm.

There is a lot of exciting work being done in PR measurement to show how and where PR contributes value to the organization.

Keep up the good work.


It seems to me that people should be _excited_ about the prospect of newer, more accurate and more telling metrics. As you keep saying, the better your metrics the better your content can become.

How can you learn to create the most compelling content and drive the most action possible if you can't measure response?

Eric Schwartzman


Not sure if you heard it yet, but David Rockwell makes a very compelling argument for the death of AVEs here: http://bit.ly/bUAIZt

For those who missed the Barcelona conference, the above link will bring you up to speed.



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