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July 13, 2011

PRSA Statement on Progress in Developing Global PR Measurement Standards

Commenting on a recent Wall Street Journal article that examined progress being made within the public relations industry to develop global standards for measurement, Keith Trivitt, associate director of public relations for the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), had the following to say:
The issue of effectively measuring public relations' value is one that the PR profession has been grappling with for a number of years. Thankfully, we are beginning to devise relevant, credible and valuable global measurement standards that will help us move well beyond Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE), which were never a very good value indicator to begin with, and have held back reforming measurement standards for a number of years.

Public relations' value is more than merely getting a mention in a publication. It also doesn't fit within the neat and tidy landscape of advertising values, which have the general viewpoint of how many people saw an ad or a brand mention and what impact that will that have on a company's sales. Measuring PR isn't that simple.
There are significant qualities of how public relations can impact a company's reputation; the role of PR in building credibility and trust between organizations and their stakeholders; and other non-sales based values that require more nuanced and sophisticated measurement standards beyond the AVE.

PRSA has long held clear positions against the use of AVEs to measure PR's value. We are one of several international trade organizations and professional associations, along with industry professionals, that have been pushing the profession in the right direction of developing more unique measurement standards. In doing so, it is hoped we will no longer have situations in which a public relations professional, such as was quoted in a recent Wall Street Journal article, "throws a [value] number out of thin air," but instead, can provide clients, media and the business community with clear and demonstrable proof of PR's significant business value.

Through the work of the Barcelona Principles, which laid out a framework for global measurement standards, along with the recently held European Summit on PR Measurement, both of which PRSA was a party to and played a role in advising, we are confident the public relations profession is well on its way toward developing more stringent global measurement standards that will meet the business community's desires for measurable value regarding its investment in PR services.

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