Why ‘PR Value’ Is The Sneakiest PR Metric Of All

Over the past few years, there has been a concerted global effort within the PR industry to stamp out the use of AVE.

We’ve written post entitled ‘What Is AVE In PR? (Advertising Value Equivalency)‘, and our own position is clear: it needs to disappear completely.

We have also undertaken some pretty unique research around the topic too. Analysing over 400k of the custom KPIs added to our own reporting platform over the past few years, we found that in 2015, 18% of reports included AVE, reducing to just 6% in 2021. So its use is diminishing – but this stubborn metric just refuses to die.

Just the name Advertising Value Equivalence should be enough to stop it in its tracks for reasons obvious to every PR pro.

However AVE is a slippery blighter. At some point – I don’t know when – it pulled a very clever stunt which I believe is in large part responsible for its continued popularity.

AVE rebranded itself to ‘PR Value‘.

This is the greatest trick a PR metric has ever pulled.

PR Value is nice and simple. No acronyms to explain. No mention of advertising. It grandly states: here is the monetary value of the PR work that’s been done.

On the surface, it’s just so convenient. I spent x and got y. No questions asked.

But there should be questions asked. Lots of questions. Because it’s simply the discredited AVE metric disguised in a sticky moustache and oversized glasses.

Whenever a client asks if our platform features PR Value, they always do so in an apologetic tone. “I know it’s nonsense” they say “but my client / our execs insist on it”.

I do have sympathy here – everyone has bills to pay – but if we as an industry drink the PR Value Kool-Aid (disclaimer: I’m British so have never had Kool-Aid) then we are legitimising a form of measurement that is fundamentally flawed.

So let’s rip off those glasses and moustache and expose PR Value for what it is: AVE in disguise – and there are so many ways to discredit AVE that we’re almost spoiled for choice.

Quick Primer: Our top five arguments against AVE

  1. Advertising and PR are fundamentally different and shouldn’t be conflated
  2. It’s not always possible to advertise where earned coverage is available
  3. Advertising Value Equivalents often confuse ‘value’ with ‘cost’
  4. AVEs do not take the quality of the coverage into consideration
  5. Earned media may not share the same tone as an advertisement