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Advertising value equivalence – PR’s illegitimate offspring.

Watson, T., 2012. Advertising value equivalence – PR’s illegitimate offspring. In: 15th International Public Relations Research Conference (IPRRC), 8--10 March 2012, Miami, FL, USA.

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Watson - IPRRC 2012 paper - Advertising Value Equivalence.pdf - Accepted Version



Public relations measurement and evaluation have long been major practice subjects. From the late 1970s onwards they have been identified as an important issue for research and practice implementation (McElreath, 1980, 1989; Synnott & McKie, 1997, Watson & Noble 2007; Watson 2008). The evolution of public relations measurement starts much earlier, with some suggesting that media monitoring practices can be identified from the late 18th century onwards (Lamme & Miller, 2010). Although the academic approach to measurement and evaluation has mostly favoured social science methodologies (Broom & Dozier 1990, Michaelson & Stacks 2011), there has been persistent and widespread practice use of Advertising Value Equivalence (AVE) to express the value of public relations activity for decades. Recent data (Daniels & Gaunt, 2009) found that AVE was used by 35% of a large international sample of practitioners. Early significant US practitioners, including Lee and Page, instituted media monitoring of programme outputs and AT&T developed sophisticated opinion researching to guide and monitor its communication activity (Cutlip 1994). Literature in the 1930s and 1940s indicate that these practices were extant, especially basic monitoring of media coverage (Batchelor, 1938). However, there are indications that AVE was in use from the 1940s onward. Plackard and Blackmon (1947) refer to it in the US and provide an example of its calculation. In the UK, the first warning against AVE came in a 1949 edition of the IPR Journal (J. L’Etang, personal communication, January 10, 2011). Both sources thus indicate it was an established practice by mid-century, although it did not surface in professional or quasi-academic literature till the late 1960s. AVE was further operationalized by the emergence of computer based analysis, such as offered by PR Data, in the mid-1960s (Tirone, 1977). From that decade onwards, its use became widespread, as indicated by industry coverage of awards and case studies and by award case studies. Latterly, AVE has been directly challenged by the Barcelona Declaration’s Principle 5 which stated that “AVEs are Not the Value of Public Relations” (AMEC, 2010). It added that AVEs “do not measure the value of public relations and do not inform future activity; they measure the cost of media space and are rejected as a concept to value public relations.” Time will tell whether AVE is replaced by other, valid metrics. This paper investigates the evolution of AVE, which has long been damned as illegitimate, and postulates whether it arose from clippings agencies, advertising planning practices or from other influences on public relations.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords:AVE ; Evaluation ; Measurement ; Public relations
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:21248
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:20 May 2014 13:21
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 13:48


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