AVE not okay 'Please'! It’s time to go the MVoT way says MSE's Jayesh Shinde

A lot has been spoken about the measurement of PR Activities. The more people you talk to, the more dimensions open up. However, in the last few years, am glad to hear that people ensure they say “Ah! Let’s keep AVE (Advertising Value Equivalent) away please”. 

To my surprise, many corporate communication guys have stopped obsessing over it and no more use only AVE as a yardstick to measure the effectiveness of their work. In fact, some really evolved PR firms folks have also shifted away from AVEs. However, AVE does pop up as part of client pitches from time to time, especially when big PR firms use it to strengthen their pitch, but it’s a turn-off for me. 

 Let me confess that even when I moved on to the corporate side from the agency ecosystem, AVE did come to my rescue but then as I grew in my job I realized it doesn’t do justice to what we as PR professionals contribute to the brand.

While it will take time for businesses to completely turn their backs to AVEs, in India, there is a slow but visible change taking place in the attitude to and expectations from PR in the corner office. Businesses are increasingly focusing on the value of the PR strategy.

 As we all have turned into digital natives, the world of communication has witnessed a massive transformation. With a plethora of information available on digital channels, content rules the world and this is where our role as communications professional goes beyond the traditional ambit of PR.

 Similarly, the metrics of our performance has to be aligned. While there are some ready-made measurement models available these days, a comprehensive technique is still missing. In my opinion, we shouldn’t even struggle to find one but create a unique model for ourselves.

In the world of data science and advanced analytics, there is a popular term called MVoT - Multiple Version of Truth. This term challenged the concept of SSoT – Single Source of Truth where a particular data point is used as a base for the next action. However, in the VUCA world, having a single data point may not be enough to make a decision or to assess the performance of a task. 

For example, if there is a corporate announcement our aim is to have wider coverage, length of article, position, key messages covered, picture, etc… but in case of a negative event, our focus will be totally contradictory.

Simply put, just as ‘one size fits all’ doesn’t work for every communication strategy, why should performance metric be same all across, particularly during editorial or organic conversations that are aimed to build credibility.

An uncomplicated approach that has worked for me to measure success in communication is by firstly having clearly defined goals aligned with organizational, brand and business objective. Additionally, it is important to clearly lay out a plan and target with appropriate media mix. One should also factor in the desired impact for example number of story pegs to be floated, publication and beat-wise mapping.

Once the data starts to flow in, it should be able to display your objectives. Further, if you can demonstrate the effectiveness of activity through revenue impact, even better. While many PR practitioners may shy away saying “PR doesn’t generate revenue”, there are many ways to actually prove it does.

Jayesh Shinde heads communications & CSR at the Metropolitan Stock Exchange, MSE. He specializes in strategic initiatives, image transformation, advocacy and crisis.