I certainly endorse most of the comments made by David McLaren regarding
the widespread usage of ‘advertising equivalents’ in the evaluation of
PR media coverage (PR Week, 27 October).
Apart from being a poor reflection on the confidence of the PR industry
(one could hardly imagine an advertising agency assessing its coverage
in terms of ‘editorial equivalent’) it is actually a very flawed
This measure makes the assumption that advertising rates equate to
coverage. This is not the case. Advertising rates are a reflection of
the supply and demand for advertising space in a particular publication.
Publications with a high business readership charge more, and those with
a downmarket reader profile charge less. If your target audience is, for
example, housewives or young people, then an advertising equivalent
measure would be positively misleading.
Furthermore, ‘advertising equivalents’ merely measure media coverage.
The objective must be to get the desired message in from of the targeted
A much better approach would be to emulate the advertising industry and
use the measure they themselves use. The evaluation system we use at
Test Research measures exposure of target groups to different messages
using the same measures (reach, OTS and gross rating points) that are
used by advertisers to assess advertising exposure.
The solution is not to use an ‘advertising equivalent’ measure but to
adopt the equivalent measure used by the advertising industry.
Tim Burns, managing director Test Research