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PR industry struggles to push back on out-of-date model

Industry wants to focus on a more analytical focused measurement

Gulf News

Dubai: The public relations industry is struggling to push itself away from an outdated of method of measuring the value of media coverage against advertising and towards an analytics-focused approached.

Company executives continue to favour Advertise Value Equivalency, BPG Cohn & Wolfe managing director Kevin Hasler said on Thursday, because, they believe, they think it “can actually demonstrate a return on investment.”

Advertise Value Equivalency is widely accepted to be outdated and ineffective because it measures media coverage against how much it would have cost in advertising for the same exposure. For example, it compares newspaper column inches or television programme duration with how much they would have had to spend for an advertisement of the same quantitative size.

However, it does not measure the tone, so a three-column newspaper article would be valued against a three-column advertisement irrespective if the article were a positive or negative story.

The industry instead is pushing towards analytics that does measure tone, as well as the type of audience reached, engagement, reaching company goals and driving sales.

“What we’re trying to get to … is a return on objective,” Hasler said at an industry conference in Dubai.

The industry has been unable to gain acceptance of the analytical approach, in part, because companies want to use the old method and if they were to push back then they risk losing clients.

“No one in this room wants offend their internal senior manager, or if you are a PR agency want to risk losing the business,” AMEC chief executive Barry Leggetter said. He said that the industry should run “two systems in parallel,” the outdated method and the analytical-based method,

“It’s up to you then to persuade those clingy to the AVE legacy that there is another way,” he said.

Hasler also said that public relations companies should be willing to turn down work if they believe it would not be of value to the client.

“We need to avoid being pushed to places where frankly we can’t do our job properly.”