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Off the Record: PRs, stop bleating on about measurement and just bloody do it

This morning, Twitter (and by that, I mean PR people on Twitter) piled in to have yet another go at AVE, because it appears certain PR services still relay it and/or ‘PR Value’ as result metrics, seemingly sparked by the PRCA’s short bash at a white paper from an industry supplier, Meltwater.

Cue droves of PR people falling over themselves to say the right words in the right order; with the words ‘Barcelona’ and ‘Principles’ bandied about like confetti at the dullest wedding in the world.

So far so normal, to be honest – conferences have been ‘debating’ how the industry can prove its worth for the eight years I’ve been in PR, God knows how long they were doing it before then.


The fact is – we can prove it in some meaningful ways – but many a) don’t understand it, b) don’t care or, worse c) know about this but are petrified because it very often won’t make us look like a good investment.

You see, a while back, I wrote this: PRs CAN prove how much money we make for clients – and here’s how.

It pretty much does what it says on the tin, highlighting how Google Goals – and Analytics in general – can be used to demonstrate the value and usefulness of what we do. Simply put – we already can prove that a visitor from X article we’ve been responsible for bought Y product for £Z.

And that’s before we even get into our ability to linkbuild – and prove the benefits of doing so – for clients.

I’ll take each response in turn:

a) “I don’t understand it”

Well… tough. Learn about it or get left behind. I’ll be talking about a solution to this later on. Just don’t say there isn’t another way.

b) “I don’t care”

Good. More clients for people that do, then.

c) “Yeah but, AVE actually makes us look good to idiots that have no idea how bloody masturbatory it is. What if the actual £ value through Google Goals is less than they spend with us each month?”

It probably will be less than you’re paid – and it will almost certainly be less than the ridiculous AVE factoring I’ve seen presented in ‘results’ meetings. £5,000 : £1 etc. EURGH.

But you know what? There are other benefits to what we do. I’ve touched on the SEO side of things – and I’d argue we’re better placed than any other marketer to achieve authoritative links to clients that actually make a difference to search engine performance.

Now, the ever-important ‘awareness’ is harder to measure – but it’s still possible with audience surveying. And then what about the customers/users PR and advertising have always struggled to prove we were responsible for – the ones that see something and then decide to come back later, perhaps not through the channel we had a hand in? Well, I don’t have an answer for that one, yet. Perhaps it lies in working with remarketing tools.


Onto the launch of AnswertheClient.com:

Amidst everything this morning, I spotted Gary Preston (the founder of CoverageBook.com) tweet this:

And I actually got quite excited – because, Answer the Client appeared to be a simpler and prettier version of logging in to Analytics to see how traffic was converting based on the Goals you’d set up.

And it was.

I called Gary with a few questions and found out that it had started life as a CoverageBook add-on, but the team had decided it was worth spinning out – for free – to simplify measurement for those in the industry and to actually move us beyond a point of repeatedly having the same arguments and debates.

Built in a couple of days by the team (alongside Gary – Dan, Alan, Jon, Stefan, Stella and Laura), it was launched today due to the AVE discussion – otherwise penned in for release on Monday.

There were a few technical hiccups – there always are – but what you see is what you get. And what you get is very good.

If you have an email address with access to your client’s Analytics – ask them to add you – you can then paste in coverage URLs to see a simplified set of results, showing:

a) any traffic came about as a result of it and

b) if anybody that visited actually *did* anything. Did they spend any money, or hit any other Goals (be it newsletter sign-ups, requests for information, submit through contact forms etc)?


Answer the Client is a better-looking and simpler way for PRs to access client (or their own, if in-house) Analytics, if going into actual Google Analytics is too confusing and/or time-consuming, to see how coverage translated to traffic and, hopefully, money.

In other words – Either. Is. Better. Than. A. V. Sodding E.

I asked Gary if he’d like to say a few words and, unlike me, is a man of few. He said,

“Honestly, we’re just keen on just getting shit done. The tool is not perfect. Far from it. But, maybe it’s a step away from reading manifestos and sets of principles and seeing no action.”

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Rich started PRexamples.com in January 2012. He runs consumer PR agency Rich Leigh & Company, which has two offices in the UK. In March 2013, Rich co-founded blogger outreach service bloggabase.com. He tweets about PR stunts, campaigns and other media bits and pieces @RichLeighPR

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