Three Reasons Why AVEs Are No Longer Relevant

No Comments Yet | by Elise Perkins

Guest Post by Dawn Buzynski

With 2017 newly upon us, it’s generally during this time when we see how many “Best Of” blogs discussing what has come and gone over the past 12 months. In the agency world, we have seen significant change with the evolution of digital and social media, which seems to continually morph at breakneck speed. Wasn’t it just yesterday that Periscope was the next big thing? All it took was Facebook Live to join the party. And Snapchat continues to gain in prominence for the 12- to 19-year demographic, successfully snuffing out Meerkat.

What is also evident to us in the agency world is that audiences are splintered among so many channels. Instead of TV, radio and print we must understand where the Millennials are gaining their information, and the Gen Z is constantly moving to the newest cool platform that their parents don’t yet know about. It makes public relations more challenging, that is for certain.

However, because of the syndication of communications, the industry is still grappling with measurement. What I see among my agency peers is that — although the agency is ready to move to a more agile and sustainable form of measurement — the clients are not. For the enterprise and government clients, procurement still has a lock on the relationship and they want to see measurement in black and white. Other times, the client marketing teams get it; however, the C-Suite does not.

I hate to say it folks, but the industry is still dealing with AVEs. (Cue ominous music)

There are right ways to measure and there are wrong ways to measure. Using an AVE is definitely the wrong way to measure. “I know this,” you say, “but tell my client that.” No you can tell your client and provide a solid rationale why. Here it goes.

Three reasons to stop using AVEs

There are many who feel AVEs still have a place in PR measurement – and we may just agree to disagree – but let me provide three reasons why AVEs are no longer relevant measures of PR.

  1. AVEs promote the misconception that PR is simply free advertising

Public relations is not a misnomer. We are building relationships with the key audiences that businesses depend on for success. That is far more valuable than a full-page advertisement.

  1. The AVE model doesn’t fit in the digital space

AVE was designed based on using a comparable advertising rate for print, TV and radio. Advertising in the digital realm is far more complicated and isn’t simply a matter of print size or 30-second spots. Also there is no AVE for social media, which has proven to be vital in effectively communicating with key publics.

III. AVEs is not an output, outgrowth or outcome.

Using the three O’s is the most basic way to measure PR.

  • Output – did the audience see the message?

This is measured by number of placements, impressions and open rates.

  • Outgrowth – did the audience understand the message?

This is more difficult to quantify, but a call to action and audience engagement such as shares and click-through rates shows the receiver understood the message enough to do something about it.

  • Outcome – did the audience do something about it?

The outcome is directly connected with what you are asking of your audience. If there was a call to action, did they respond the way you anticipated? If the overall goal is to increase market share, was there an increase in sales?

AVEs cannot be categorized as any of those, so it can’t accurately be measured.

Back to what I stated earlier. For PR to be valued in today’s business, it’s important to tie your PR efforts to your organization’s overall marketing goals. Makes sense, right?

It’s not a simple formula but it’s not rocket science.


Dawn Buzynski leads the award-winning public relations team at Strategic America in West Des Moines, Iowa. Dawn is an accredited public relations practitioner (APR) with 17 years of experience in public relations and marketing. Her expertise encompasses public affairs, media relations, social media and digital communications. Dawn has experience in both B2B and B2C communications in various sectors, such as government affairs, nonprofits, real estate and industrial manufacturing. Dawn excels in client/agency relationships, organizational efficiencies, and fostering strong business relationships with a solid record of achieving synergy within various environments. Connect with Dawn on Twitter.

About Elise Perkins

Elise Perkins founded ep communications in 2014 after seven years of working for trade associations and think tanks. Today she focuses on building brands for businesses and people, using a savvy mix of content and influencer strategies. She sits on the board of Washington Women in Public Relations.

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