Emily Tan
Jul 25, 2011

Ogilvy PR Australia drops ad-based valuation for a new set of metrics

SYDNEY- After years of questioning the accuracy of measuring public relations returns via advertising valuation equivalency (AVE), Ogilvy PR Australia has decided to drop it in favour of its own set of ‘value metrics’.

PR needs to reevaluate its system of measurement, says Kieran Moore
PR needs to reevaluate its system of measurement, says Kieran Moore

AVE is the cost or value of editorial coverage if it was advertising space or time.

“PR no longer merely equals publicity,” Ogilvy PR Australia CEO Kieran Moore told Campaign. “As an agency we provide value in areas spanning brand communications to government relations – it’s time we stood up for what we do.”

In place of AVE, Ogilvy PR Australia is working with the network’s strategy and planning division in New York to craft a set of ‘value metrics’ that more accurately reflect the ROI clients gain from their PR campaigns. “Having just one method of measurement underestimates the complex nature of what we do,” said Moore.

Scheduled for launch in September, value metrics will be a collection of measurements that clients can select from to monitor the efficacy of their campaigns. Clients will be able to select a basket of measurements, some tailor-made, and monitor results via a dashboard-style programme. According to Moore, Ogilvy PR Australia would be a ‘test case’ for the system.

“Our clients, by and large, have stopped using AVE as a system of measurement. They understand, as we do, that AVE is more about justification than determining actual effectiveness. Those we’ve spoken to are on board with the concept so we’re willing to be the first to dip our toes in the water,” Moore said.

This reassessment of metrics comes as Ogilvy PR Australia celebrates its 10th anniversary. Moore says it is theresult of a study earlier this month by Ogilvy Illumination, the agency’s strategic communications research specialists, together with Australian-based International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).

The research, aimed at determining the direction of the industry, was based on 300 online quantitative surveys among Australian PR and communications professionals and 18 qualitative interviews among leading industry figures.

According to the study, clients and practitioners agreed that by 2021, strategic thinking and planning would be the most significant contribution to clients’ communication needs (36 per cent of respondents predicted this), followed by implementation and execution (31 per cent), content and message creation (20 per cent), and acting as the client’s 'guardian and educator' (14 per cent).

“Our goal as PR practitioners is to earn a seat at the boardroom, to make what we do part of a client’s strategy in achieving business ambitions,” said Moore. “The aim is to take the role of a business consultancy focused around communications and brand building – rather than be considered a press release factory.”

One finding from the study that Ogilvy PR does not fully agree with is the dropping of the term ‘public relations’ in favour of ‘communications professionals or agencies’. An overwhelming 76 per cent of respondents believed that by 2021 the term ‘PR’ would cease to be used.

“We need to be more specific about what we do, rather than be more general. It’s about redefining rather than renaming the industry,” said Moore. “However, we believe this is an indicator that the ‘age of spin’ is dead and this finding shows that communications has moved towards reputation building.”


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