The AMEC European Summit of 2010 is famous for killing anyone's lingering hopes that advertising value equivalence (AVE) represents any kind of measure of the value of PR. As I like to say, AVE is a specious sum based on false assumptions using an unfounded multiplier, only addressing a fraction of the PR domain. <sarcasm>Apart from that, it works just fine!</sarcasm>

This summer, the European Summit delegates set AMEC's top priority as determining an approach to measuring the return on investment (ROI) of public relations. Sounds a most admirable ambition, but should this be interpretted in the way I think it might, I fear we may be at risk of having dethroned one false idol only to pursue another.

Why? Because investment in public relations is investment in strategically important intangible assets, and such investments cannot be designed, executed or analysed in isolation. As Drs Kaplan and Norton put it in their 2004 book Strategy Maps:

"Economic justification of these strategic investments can be performed, but not in traditional ways. The common approach is on a stand-alone basis: ‘Show the ROI of the new IT application’, or ‘Demonstrate the payback from the HR training program.’ … But each investment or initiative is only one ingredient in the bigger recipe. Each is necessary, but not sufficient. Economic justification is determined by evaluating the return from the entire portfolio of investments in intangible assets…"

What does this mean? Well consider the hypothetical instance of two organisations designing, executing and analysing exactly the same public relations strategy delivering precisely the same results for the same investment.

I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) that AMEC delegates await a sort of formula that will determine the ROI for both these executions identically. Yet the "returns" on their respective investments will be quite different because the two organisations are different. They have different missions, visions, values and objectives. Their priorities will differ, and so therefore will their portfolio of investments in all kinds of assets. And so the specific role public relations plays will be different, and so therefore its contribution to the organisation's success.

What do I recommend?

Well, running organisations is hard work – performance management (including measurement) is an exhausting discipline. There are no shortcuts or easy wins. By definition, public relations permeates every aspect of organisational life, and we should acknowledge this intertwining in seeking to ascertain the potential of public relations and in assessing the actual benefits, rather than pursue this work in disciplinary isolation.

The Influence Scorecard approach attempts just this, working into the Kaplan and Norton Balanced Scorecard – the dominant framework for business performance management.

For more reading on this topic, I recommend Katie Delahaye Paine's roundup of this month's AMEC summit, and David Phillip's post: Can PR use ROI as a form of measurement? Its harder than you think.

Best regards, Philip and The Conversation team.


The 9Cs of social media user types - which ones are you?

by Simon Sanders of Lansons Communications

Consider two men called Brian. First of all ‘Brian’ (no surname). In his infamous Open Letter to all of Advertising and Marketing he noted that if he likes a sausage ad, he might just buy the sausages. But that’s where his engagement ends. Where, he queried, did you get the idea that I might want to create and upload a video, draw a picture, nominate a friend or, in short, participate in your marketing? The letter is almost certainly fictional, an industry in-joke, but it makes its point to anyone planning social strategies. More...


Focus your business in 140 characters

by Neville Hobson of

I spent a frustrating fifteen minutes today trawling around a company’s website to try and find a succinct description of them. Googling them didn’t help a bit – every description I did encounter around the web actually didn’t say what they do in a way I can use.

Why is is that so many companies do a really terrible job at making available a short and clear description that, at a glance, lets you understand their business and makes it easy for you to repeat their description with a quick copy and paste and little editing or rewriting? It’s as if everything you read was written by a committee and has a sales or marketing spin behind it. More...


Transmedia Lenses

by Steve Sponder of Lawton Communications Group

Conversations about Transmedia have been very healthy recently, with both Brain Clark's (@gmdclark) 'Reclaiming Transmedia Storytelling' post and Brooke Thompson's (@imbri) 'Transmedia is killing Hollywood will kill Transmedia' post generating thought provoking discussion in the form of hundreds of comments. Most of the transmediarati (did I just coin that? :) were present including @imbri @gmdclark @mikemonello @vipsteve @lanceweiler @robpratten @goonth @garyphayes and @4dfiction

These guys really know their stuff with many of them behind some of the most progressive entertainment and digital marketing projects over the last decade. More...


The Twitter Paradox

by Brian Solis of

There’s an old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Twitter is a paradox that redefines that old saying to, “If it’s broke, don’t fix it, because it works.”

For all intents and purposes, Twitter shouldn’t work yet 200 million people (and bots) have created accounts on in the thriving information egosystem. New no longer break, it Tweets. Celebrities use it daily to connect directly with fans and also augment their income streams. More...


AMEC European Summit - what happens now?

by Richard Andrews of University of Chichester

After a hectic week at the office, I have finally found the time to look back at some of the news coming out of the AMEC European Summit, recently finished in Lisbon and said to be the follow-up to the Barcelona Principles agreed last year.

Arun Sudhaman from The Holmes Report provides an overview of what the PR measurement industry has agreed, but the Dummy Spit blog questions how representative it was.

So what happens next? There was strong agreement from the summit with the need for common ROI definitions, and for the industry to become more specific beyond the Barcelona Principles. More...


Owning awareness vs just renting it

by David Meerman Scott of David Meerman Scott

How do you generate awareness for your business or your ideas?

Do you rent awareness?

Renting awareness involves paying money to reach somebody else's audience. There are many ways to pay for awareness such as:

Google AdWords and other search engine ad schemes where you rent keyword and phrase result placement.
Banner ads which you rent on a per impression basis.
Content syndication services such as online news release distribution that you buy on a one-off basis.
Renting tradeshow booth space for a few days. More...


Social Media @ Work premieres June 17

by Neville Hobson of

In March, I interviewed David Ferrabee, Managing Director of change management consultancy Able and How, and Robin Block, Director of Red Sky Vision, in an FIR Interview podcast about an innovative new video the pair were working on that addresses a disconnect they see between how immersed and digitally-connected employees are outside of the workplace, and how their internal communications are being delivered.

The video includes hours of interviews with insights from communicators like Richard Dennison and journalists like Helen Dunne (I was also one of those interviewed). More...


The dark side of Groupon

by David Meerman Scott of David Meerman Scott

Groupon, a U.S. "deal of the day" site that provides coupons to consumers for local businesses is getting tons of buzz, the vast majority very positive. The company is growing very fast – revenues were $713 million in 2010, up from $30 million in 2009 and early this month they announced plans to raise money in a Groupon public stock listing.

With all the hype, I wanted to provide some observations on the dark sides of Groupon for potential advertisers, customers, and investors to consider.

What is Groupon?

According to the site: More...


Social media strategic, but no social media strategy - report

by Walter Adamson of NewLeaseG2M

A recent HBR / SAS survey of how organisations are using social media is worth reading. Its analysis is biased towards SAS's interests in analytics and monitoring, but the data is interesting in itself.

For example:

75% of companies said that they don't know where their customers are talking about them - they're missing both the advocates and the detractors;
79% said they are using (58%) or planning to use (21%) social media, yet only 1/3 of those had a social media strategy in place;
42% said social media is integral to their overall goals and strategies; More...


The Hashtag Economy

by Brian Solis of

Hashtags are to the social web what emoticons were to Web 1.0 and TXTing. While both are forms of expression and sentiment, there is one subtle, but vital difference. Hashtags are not only part of online culture, they are defining a new era of communication on the Web and IRL (in real life). What started out as a way to index conversations in Twitter has now substantially altered how people convey, relay and discover information in and out of the popular nichework. In social media, “x” More...


Keep taking the tablets – Who is using the iPad and who isn’t

by si crowhurst of We Love Mobile

For a while now we’ve known that media tablets are the latest talked about product. As with any new piece of technology, the first adopters make a lot of noise, and often work in agencies! However, we now have more tangible data available for us to measure tablet reach amongst normal people. This means we can start to make informed decisions around the relevance of these devices for clients and their customers. Some of the data is presented below.

First, an update on the tablet leader – More...


Slidedeck: how to get ahead, and hired, in social media

by Stephen Waddington of Speed Communications

Here is my deck from the CIPR Summer Socialsession that I ran last night at the CIPR in Russell Square on personal reputation and how to get ahead, and hired, in social media.

There are three components of personal brand: your work; your personal network; and increasingly your online footprint. The session last night focused on the latter two and explored how you can use social technology to build your network and online profile. More...

Enhanced by Zemanta