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PR Evaluation – still a challenge?

amec-logo-largeEarlier this month I spoke at the annual conference of Association for  Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) in my role as President of the International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) on what agencies wanted from the evaluation industry.

My argument centred on the need for practical processes and methodologies that both agencies and clients could agree on and accept as simple benchmarks.  Ideally I think some form of standard methodology that we can all buy into needs to be created.   I am convinced that this would mean that the 30-40% of PR campaigns that are not evaluated at all might be measured providing valuable revenue for AMEC members.

One very well thought out and available evaluation approach is AMEC’s validated metrics that can be downloaded here.  It provides a comprehensive framework for the development of PR evaluation programmes.   The UK’s Public Relations Consultants Association announced at the conference that it is introducing an Evaluation module for its Consultancy Management Standard that is based on the Validated Metrics.


One of  the questions I was asked at the conference is why agencies continue to provide advertising value equivalent (AVE) scores to clients, when they were ‘officially’ discredited in the Barcelona Principles at AMEC’s previous conference.

My response was simple.

Consultancies are businesses and if their customers want a particular form of evaluation that the finance director can understand then they will provide them.  I accept that AVEs do not provide the insight that formal evaluation gives and the associated planning benefits, but commercial reality will win out.  Arun from the Holmes Report picked this up and filmed a short interview.


Attendees at the conference all voted on what the evaluation priorities for the coming year should be:

1.       How to measure the return on investment (ROI) of public relations (89%)

2.       Create and adopt global standards for social media measurement (83%)

3.       Measurement of PR campaigns and programmes needs to become an intrinsic part of the PR toolkit (73%)

4.       Institute a client education program such that clients insist on measurement of outputs, outcomes and business results from PR programs (61%)

In summary, the Barcelona principles were a great starting point and the priorities identified in Lisbon have moved the debate on but there is still work to be done before evaluation is part and parcel of every PR campaign.

Richard Houghton

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