Will take time to move away from instant gratification of AVEs says PR Guru panel

This week marks ‘International Women’s Day’ and women have certainly made their mark in PR. PR professionals share their views on gender and work with the PR Guru expert panel.

Our panel includes...
Kishore Sinha, founder director, Value 360 Communications Pvt. Ltd.
Gayatri Rath, director, corporate communications and citizenship, Microsoft India
Deepa Thomas, general manager, group communications, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd
Paroma Roy Chowdhury, vice president, public affairs –SoftBank
Sujit Patil, vice president and head of corporate communications Godrej Industries Limited and Associate companies
Shravani Dang, vice president & global group head of corporate communications at the Avantha Group
Aniruddha Atul Bhagwat, co-founder & director, Ideosphere Consulting Private Limited.

What is the current 'tangible' measurement standard that all India PR agencies are following, if any?
Falguni Patel, Simulations Public Affairs Management Services

Expert Advice...

Sujit Patil, vice president and head of corporate communications, Godrej Industries Limited and Associate companies

“Share of Voice, tonality, geographical spread, priority market coverage, OTS, press release hit ratio, message/thought leadership analysis, co-relation with viewership data, footfalls/sales are some of the common measures that are part of the PR banter. However, I personally think that PR agencies should provide their clients measures that are based on agreed PR objectives and goals.

People talk about ROI! By definition ROI of PR would mean effect of PR on increasing revenue or profits, I personally feel, calculating it in real terms is not a straight equation as there are many other entities involved. With multiple stakeholders across businesses and geographies; within and outside the organization enabled by a global information landscape, the PR measurement conundrum can be complicated. Trying to quantify could be even more. Can one quantify the cost of reputation saved due to effective PR? Can we assign a monetary value to it or the frequent crises a PR team mitigates silently and claim it as the ROI? Yes, you are right when you say that Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) is still quite prevalent in the industry. It is a measure that creates a feeling that PR is delivering but in reality does not measure the real value that PR can deliver. Even if I personally do not advocate AVE’s, I reckon, it’s going to take a lot of time for us to move away from this instant gratification.

Having said that, let me take the liberty of going a step further and state my take on measurement. I feel it should be used as a tool to course correct a communication strategy that is aligned to larger organizational goals. The best way for a PR function to create and showcase value is to align its strategy to the top organizational goals, articulate business/brand related PR objectives in line with this strategy, set the expectations right with the client / C-suite by jointly agreeing on the measures of success for these objectives and then go all out to ensure that they are met. Hence demonstrating maximum Return on Objectives (ROO). Easier said than done but possible! Crisp objectives are a strong foundation for any PR success story. Measures are easy to attach if one knows, “what success looks like”, “desired behavioral changes are” and other such well-articulated objectives. Measuring progress against each objective then becomes more realistic and believable.”

Aniruddha Atul Bhagwat, founder-director, Ideosphere Consulting Private Limited

“Firstly, I don’t think all agencies are following the traditional AVE method of measurement. The AVE does not do true justice to the value good communications adds to a business, and the 3x or 5x multiples on the advertising value does not have any standard reasoning. At Ideosphere, we have never used the AVE method, and instead, look at a mix of a qualitative and quantitative method of measurement.

The quantitative method of measurement is where we look at the percentage achieved from the impression expectations we have set at the beginning of a half year or quarterly communication plan, while the qualitative measurement is based on tonality, focus on the set message strategy and impact on the business. Today as communication tools have extended from traditional media to mediums such as newsletters, comics, info-graphics, and even Whatsapp, making it difficult to measure through traditional measurement methods.

Communication measurement has been and will continue to be debated in terms of standard format, but the focus has definitely shifted from the client side. While clients were satisfied with an AVE analysis earlier (probable due to an absence of any other measurement tool), clients, today, are more interested not in ‘how many impressions?’ but ‘how much value’. Expanding, how much value has communications added to our business directly or indirectly. At the end of the day, there is no better measurement than business impact. This will only increase as communications becomes an integral part of every business.”

What is the one standard way to measure digital reputation ( e.g. – How do you measure the same story in Huffpost or Your Story or an upcoming blog or a newspaper online version).
Falguni Patel, Simulations Public Affairs Management Services

Expert Advice...

Sujit Patil, vice president and head of corporate communications, Godrej Industries Limited and Associate companies

“Your digital reputation is a manifestation of your behaviors in the online space and would probably be governed by the content you post, endorse or are a part of. Your visuals, blog posts and social interactions will all shape how you are perceived in this space.

A few feel good dynamic measures could be the Klout scores, online mentions, number of your views that were shared, number of followers etc. You may also like to look at conversion metrics as a part of your online reputation management strategy. These are basically the traffic sources, new unique visitors and bounce rates.

Having said that, reputation, I feel is “reputation” end of the day and digital is just a mode. Your stakeholders are making inferences about you at different data consumption points. So I would put my money in using all sorts of available modes for communicating my message but measure reputation at an overall level for which there are so many proven and robust measures available.”

Aniruddha Atul Bhagwat, founder-director, Ideosphere Consulting Private Limited

“Apart from quantitative analysis on the number of hits the online platform gets, time spent, etc., digital allows us to measure the two-way communication and engagement an digital impression has been able to deliver.

The measurement would be a mix of identifying the number of social media engagements (shares/likes) a story has been able to achieve, and the conversations it is able to drive. Most platforms will have a section under the story for comments; this is a good tool to measure conversations as well.

If a digital impression can drive conversation, the content was able to capture the attention of the reader, develop interest and spark a need to converse about it. An impression which can take a reader all the way to conversations, it would be measured at a high value. On digital, the measurement will need to be based on one of the biggest USPs of digital media: two-way communication and engagement!”

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