One of the most commented-on pieces in the July edition of PRWeek was our Gloves Off debate about measurement and whether advertising value equivalency should be used to assess PR campaigns.
One argument is that ad value is something all CMOs and CEOs can understand, so it makes it easier to explain the effectiveness of a PR campaign to them in that context. In fact, many senior executives insist on it.
But it's not certain that theory still stacks up in our social media-dominated world. It trivializes connections that go way beyond basic ad impact. How do you measure the real value of a detailed two-way conversation and engagement with a consumer that results in a person acting as an advocate for your brand on a blog or within social media? That goes beyond ad value into the realms of professional services that would attract premium rates if it were provided by a consultancy.
Then there's the multiplier effect that PR and communications activity adds to traditional advertising, which can really accelerate the impact of marketing campaigns.
We doubt there will ever be one generic measurement system for PR, but agencies are developing their own proprietary tools and dashboards on an individual and cross-network level that can tell the story of the value of PR much more effectively than borrowing a system from advertising that isn't fit for that purpose.
And that's a message the communications industry needs to get across to the CMO and CEO community if it is to stay ahead of the game in the race to dominate the social media space.