More than a third of UK PR firms use ‘meaningless’ AVEs for measurement

Article by Robert Smith, PRWeek

PRCA director general Francis Ingham has labelled AVEs “an entrenched vanity project” that are “not fit to be called measurement”, although new research suggests more than a third of UK PR agencies currently use them.

Ingham’s sentiment is shared by many of the 132 agency-side and in-house PR professionals who responded to a new survey by PRWeek and the PRCA.

AVEs – or advertising value equivalents – are a metric used by some in the PR industry to measure the benefit of media coverage or a campaign for a client.

One PR pro called for AVEs to be outlawed. Another said: “AVEs are a fake comfort blanket, like the Emperor’s new clothes.”

Despite this, the survey, conducted between 31 January and 10 February, found more than 35 per cent of UK PR agencies and just over 23 per cent of in-house teams still use them.

That is in comparison to almost 45 per cent of agencies that said they do not currently use AVEs, though have in the past, and just over 20 per cent that said they have never used them. In-house, 46 per cent said they do not currently use the metric, while over 30 per cent said they never have.

When asked how often AVEs were used for print media relations work within their agency, 45 per cent said it was for a minority, while almost one third said they never use them. Only two per cent said they always used it.

Like their agency counterparts, 47 per cent of in-house teams said they would never use AVEs for print media relations work.

However, of those agencies that do use AVEs, roughly half said it was because clients expected it. No respondent said it was expected by senior management within their agency and nobody said it was their preferred method of evaluation.

“We all know that we shouldn’t use AVEs but let’s be honest, clients want it – especially the smaller ones that want to know exactly how much value they are getting back in terms of their investment,” said one agency-side PR.

The study reveals that no agency expects to use AVEs more this year than it did it 2016, while almost 60 per cent said AVEs would be used less.

“Thankfully, there is strong progress being made by enlightened teams who realise just how meaningless AVEs are,” Ingham said.

“We need to carry this momentum forward and arm those working in-house and at consultancies with everything possible to fight against a broken system that some still insist upon using,” he added.

According to the study, PRs are far more inclined to use the Barcelona Principles, which now comprise an interactive system based around KPIs and outcomes, rather than just outputs as with AVEs, the PRCA said.

“The AMEC Barcelona Principles 2.0 rightly measure outcomes relating to your KPIs to prove the real value of our work. For this industry to be respected, we have to work on real achievements rather than just outputs forced through some spurious and outdated metric,” Ingham said.

In a similar study conducted in 2014, the PRCA found almost 77 per cent of agencies considered AVEs to be an inappropriate way to evaluate work, while 69 per cent said they did not use the metric at all.

One respondent from this year’s survey said: “AVEs are an outdated concept, they are unregulated and it is only the very old school PRs/clients who actually believe this is a legitimate evaluation method.”
• Are AVEs an outdated anachronism in 2017 or still a useful tool? Let us know your thoughts, for possible publication, by emailing or tweeting @prweekuknews

Take part in the 2017 Global Communications Report Survey

We are pleased to announce that the survey, which informs the Global Communications Report is now live. It is being conducted by USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in collaboration with the Holmes Report, AMECArthur W. Page Society, ICCO, IPR, Global AlliancePRCA UK/MENAPR Council, PRSA, PRSSA and WorldCom.

The Global Communications Report is an important indicator of what lies ahead for one of the world’s most dynamic professions and it goes to the core of our mission — to connect corporations, agencies, academics and students to define the future of the industry and those who will shape it.

For the first time, we are fielding two separate surveys, one to senior level PR/communications professionals, and one to students who are about to enter the field. This data will provide rich opportunities to explore the differences and similarities between the two important groups.

Be sure you don’t miss this unique opportunity to shape the future of one of the fastest growing global industries. After you’ve taken the survey, share the link with your colleagues.

Click here to access the professionals survey.

Click here to access the student survey.

Clean business is good business: corporate governance in a digital age

Article by Claudia Gioia, ‎President & CEO, Hill+Knowlton Latin America

Over the past decade, corporate governance has been the subject of increasing attention and scrutiny, leading to a growing demand for transparency, social responsibility, and higher ethical governance standards.

Corporate governance, which refers to the policies and practices leaders use to manage themselves and fulfill their responsibilities to investors, employees, and other stakeholders, has widespread impact. It affects and dictates the internal functioning and morale of a company, and it also projects externally to the public.

In today’s business environment, having a social media presence is a must for companies. Without one, a company is competitively limited and seen as both archaic and out of touch. Moreover, it allows companies to communicate not only externally, but also internally with employees. Social media then becomes an extension of communication strategy by allowing enhanced transparency and increased interaction between companies, their stakeholders, employees, and the public.

As such, social media can be a powerful tool to enhance reputation, create opportunities, and promote a business, but it also opens a wide lens into the inner workings of a corporation and its leadership. Traditional media exposure and increasing “citizens’ policing” by those globally connected also give way to a new set of more rigorous ethical and transparency standards, revolutionising principles of corporate governance.

In some regions, such as Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Northern Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, certain tendencies in corporate governance have emerged.

Corporate governance expert Dr. Richard LeBlanc explains there are several major trends that can be applicable across borders.

These trends include:

1. Ensuring social independence between boards of directors and management.

2. Imposing limits on directors’ term lengths, as well as ensuring organizations are diverse.

3. Choosing directors strictly based on capabilities, skills, and expertise.

4. Implementing audit committees at all levels to lower risk of corruption.

5. Increasing and improving cybersecurity, including the internal management of information, preventing hackings, and providing a secure platform for the board of directors.

In addition to the above trends in corporate governance, it is also critical there be regulation of leadership, as certain leadership models are more conducive to corruption. Susan Frank Divers, senior advisor, LRN Corporation, explains that “it is not enough to create documents with behaviour codes or impose trainings on a company, an introspective analysis must be done.

Leadership models and management corporate structures based on control and secrecy eventually lead to bad corporate conduct.” Additionally, it is a very costly mistake for leaders to ignore the concerns and recommendations of their employees. In today’s digital communications age, a company without transparency is destined to fail.

It is important to highlight the role of the media in stalling corruption and continuing to provide a space for transparency and compliance. The media, and especially social media, provides visibility to the inner workings of companies, often exposing irregularities and instances of corruption. In addition to providing a platform for each individual to do their part, the media helps uncover and follow corruption stories. It has also contributed to making institutions adopt more rigorous and ethical transparency and corporate governance standards.

In this new global information environment, companies that turn away from the policies of honesty and transparency lose credibility and competitive advantages. Let us hope that public criticism, social vigilance, and sanctions by governments and private institutions, as well as ethical leadership programs, will continue to push companies to adopt practices with social conscience and integrity.


Deepak Kumar & Prerna Singh International Journal of Research (IJR) Vol-1, Issue-4, May 2014

Issues & Crisis Communications Capacity Building is not on your To-Do List in 2017? Here is why it should be

Article by Samer Costantini*


Very few would argue against the statement that 2016 has been quite an eventful year when it comes to news. Heck, some might even consider “eventful” as a gross understatement. 

Around the first week of January, and in my annual ‘happy new year’ row-call to friends and family, I asked what some of my friends think 2017 is going to be like. Mind you, those “friends” that I approached advise presidents and heads of states for a living; so their words carry some merit.  Every one of them agreed that 2017 would be about one word: Anticipation.

As a communications professional and adviser, anticipation does not fit well in my neighborhood. We, PR practitioners, prefer facts; and we like them hard and rock-solid. It is either a YES or a NO. Anticipation, on the other hands, is like squeezing a ‘maybe’ in between. In the PR world, there are many examples to why answering with a maybe is not one should be provided to media or stakeholders. Maybe means I am not sure. ‘Maybe’ means I do not have the facts. And not having all the facts automatically puts any communications professionals who is worth his money, in auto-crisis mode.

So, why is 2017 all about anticipating answers?

First, global geopolitics. The 2016 US elections is a no-brainer (no pun intended). One of the most colorful elections that affected individuals, communities, business and even countries around the world. The current US president, unlike his predecessors, does not shy away from naming individuals and/or organizations on his twitter. His tweets against a few named carmakers, for example, got stock prices plummeting and CEOs rethinking their go-to-market plans. In 2017, and along with his Twitter account, the world will be in anticipation for the new US president’s 100 day plan.

In 2016, the world also witnessed the first European country voting for a breakup from the EU. Not just any European country, but a nation that is one of the big five, a member of the G 20 and occupies one of the five permanent seats in Security Council.

The immediate effects of Brexit were felt across London, the UK and the the world’s financial markets. Many businesses that operate in London still have to deal with the ripples and the aftershocks to playout 2017 on the GBP and the future plans of London-based multinationals.

Brexit clearly shows that wherever politics goes, economy usually follows. And in the Middle East, our never-ending geopolitically troubled region, economic challenges are amplified even further. For example, one may argue that the region has seen the worst of oil prices shock in 2015. Many advisors believe that 2017 will be the year a number of companies will take solid steps to offset the changes in government spending, consumer spending and new policies set in place in 2016. Already a number of companies came public with restructuring, mergers and acquisition plans.

To answer all the questions of who, where, what and why, communication practitioners need not only have the facts, but the story behind them. This takes us to the third reason why 2017 is about anticipating answers.

Today’s information consumers do not want to read press statements with charts and tables. They want to see people giving them the answers. Whether on their mobile phones or tablets via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, today’s information and news seekers have changed the way the game is played. They want the information, the full and complete picture, they want it in a way they can share with their networks of friends and family to understand, and they want it now.

A few years ago, being ready to receive any question, from anyone, at any point of time, and with the expectation that you will provide an answer that holds facts that is easy to understand, narrate and aggregate – that is what fundamentally is being in crisis communication mode.

So, to all communication practitioners out there, gear up and brush up on your right-off-the-bat messages. Understanding the dynamics of issues and crisis communication is not a once-a-year drill or a two-day training workshop. In today’s ever-changing geopolitical and economic climate, in today’s evolving information consumption habits, in today’s rapidly technology disrupting innovations; PR and communications practitioners must embrace crisis communication skills as a daily way of life and must be prepared to roll up their sleeves and wear the crisis communications hat at any hour on any day.


*Samer Costantini is a moderator in the “Let’s Talk” Crisis Communications Forum taking place in Dubai this March. He is communication adviser with two decades of experience in corporate communications and public affairs. He served various governmental, international and multinational organizations on global assignments. He can be reached on Twitter at @scdxb  

The death of the big idea

Article by Nick Bishop, Head of Corporate, Golin 

President Trump and Nigel Farage do not seem like the type of politicians to love an algorithm. Both are instinctive campaigners seemingly more attuned to Big Emotion than Big Data. Yet the role of data in helping secure victory for the Leave campaign in the EU Referendum and making Donald Trump the most powerful man on the planet has come into question.

And a mythology has emerged in which a little known firm, Cambridge Analytica, has become a key player in these surprise election outcomes. Cambridge Analytica’s methods rely on a combination of psychometric data – acquired from millions of personality tests – and data collated through voluntary surveys and social media. The company’s chief executive, Alexander Nix, is unashamed about the quantity of data it holds; in the US, close to 5000 data points on every individual.

In the case of the US Presidential election, this data was used to target advertising on social channels, strengthening the conviction of Trump voters in the election run-up, while also persuading Clinton supporters to stay at home.

The effectiveness of the campaigns supporting Trump and the Leave campaign have been scrutinised and rubbished by many. Among the many arguments made against Cambridge Analytica is that before they worked for Trump they worked for Ted Cruz, and that Trump annihilated Cruz at the polls.

Irrespective of Cambridge Analytica’s impact, what no one disputes is the importance of data science in changing behaviour and the sheer sophistication of micro-targeting in election campaigns. If we learn nothing else it is that simple demographic segmentation is outdated. The sheer notion that all Millennials, for example, can be grouped and marketed to as a single homogenous group is ridiculous.

In order to be more relevant, we need to think about segmenting audiences by interest or psychological traits, much as Cambridge Analytica have done. Why then is it still the case – eight years after Obama swept to victory with the support of Blue State Digital – that brand communication programmes are often built on nothing more than perceived wisdom?

The reality is that much of this perceived wisdom is wrong. Audiences probably don’t behave in the way we think they do (or they say they do). Their behaviours and the media mix are more complex than ever before and are changing more frequently.

This ability to segment audiences, test messages and predict behaviour heralds the possibility of an end to mass communications. At the least, it increasingly looks like a blunt and imprecise approach. In the consumer products sector, terabytes of consumer data are being used to sharpen production forecasting, identify the most and least profitable products and determine the most efficient routes for distribution operations. They are also being used for micro persuasion – the targeting of disparate groups, based on their beliefs. Business, like politics, is leading the way.

The communications industry often puts the Big Idea ahead of Big Data. The latter likely holds the seeds for a great many big ideas however – and tells you where to plant them.

ICCO and The Holmes Report announce global event partnership

ICCO is pleased to announce that it is partnering with The Holmes Report on an events programme which will see cross-promotion of key conferences, awards events and selected publications worldwide.

ICCO’s new regional structure divides its membership into five regions, consisting of the Americas, Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. Joint events with The Holmes Report will take place in all regions across the year, as well as some publications involving these markets.

Francis Ingham, ICCO Chief Executive said: “This three year partnership will turbocharge ICCO’s events programme. By partnering with the Holmes Report, we will be able to provide world class events every year, in every region of the world. This is an enormous step forward for ICCO, and for the industry we represent.”

Arun Sudhaman, President and Editor-in-Chief of The Holmes Report said: “This global partnership is an important new phase of the long and productive relationship that we have enjoyed with ICCO. The Holmes Report prides itself on providing unmatched global PR industry insight; collaborating with ICCO will ensure that our worldwide content offering engages with more markets and more people than ever before.”

The partnership will include joint branding and promotion of events including the In2 Summit series, the SABRE Awards series, the House of PR at the Cannes Lions Festival, the Global PR Summit in Miami, the ICCO Global Summit in Helsinki and the ICCO Global Awards. ICCO will also be an Association Partner of the Influencer 100 publication, Innovator 25 publication and Creativity Study.

Cannes Lions 2017 jury presidents named – Karen van Bergen to chair PR Lions

Each year, entries to the Cannes Lions awards are scrutinised by the industry’s brightest minds. They pore over the work submitted, whittling them down to a shortlist and ultimately awarding the most impressive work, the work that then becomes a touchstone for creativity over the coming year.

The Cannes Lions jury presidents are selected as the most highly regarded and best qualified people in the industry to judge the work and determine the winners. Once appointed, they’re bound by a series of obligations which they must commit to in writing, as well as undertaking to uphold the expectations of judging.

Here are the jury presidents for Cannes Lions 2017:

PR: Karen van Bergen, Omnicom Public Relations Group

Cyber: Colleen DeCourcy, Wieden + Kennedy

Design: Sandra Planeta, Planeta Design

Digital Craft: Henry Cowling, UNIT9

Direct: Ted Lim, Dentsu Brand Agencies APAC

Film: Pete Favat, Deutsch North America

Film Craft: Robert Galluzzo, FINCH

Glass: Wendy Clark, DDB Worldwide, North America

Media: Mike Cooper, PHD

Mobile: Andy Hood, AKQA

Outdoor: Bruno Bertelli, Publicis WW

Print & Publishing: Fran Luckin, Grey Africa

Product Design: Ruth Berktold, YES Architecture

Promo & Activation: Stéphane Xiberras, BETC

Radio: Mario D’Andrea, Dentsu Brazil

Titanium & Integrated: Khai Meng Tham, Ogilvy & Mather


ICCO is a proud supporter of Cannes Lions 2017 as the official sponsor of the Young Lions PR Competition and organiser of the House of PR.

For more information on how to get involved, contact ICCO General Manager, Charlene Corrin (

PRCA announces 17 for ‘17: 17 recommendations for great communications in 2017

The PRCA has launched the following 17 recommendations for great communications in 2017, following a review of insights and blogposts from senior PRCA members including its PR and Communications Council and Board of Management.

1. Fake news

While 2016 saw much discussion of political fake news, in future businesses will also be subject of aggressive campaigns based on misinformation. The need for intensive social media monitoring, rapid rebuttal, flexibility and empowerment of frontline communicators has never been greater.

2. Reputation and trust

Cynicism about corporations is high, and every board should consider if it is close enough to the needs of society. For challenger brands, there is a huge opportunity to displace established players by questioning their motives and actions.

3. Brand identity

Brexit and Donald Trump have illuminated profound differences in how chunks of the population view themselves and, notably, how they associate with different brands. Brands are going to have to work out how their identity deals with this new cleavage.

4. The political bifurcation of social media

Established social media brands are under pressure to police their communities more closely, and so many on the political extremes are seeking alternative platforms. This means that left and right wing social media echo chambers won’t just form around different hashtags, but in entirely different places.

5. Escapism

After periods of political upheaval, societies normally conspire to offer fresh means of escapism. People will be seeking adventure, new experiences, creativity and self-improvement. We should create campaigns that resonate with this urge.

6. Digital detox

Not only will people seek escapism, but there will be an increased shift of some away from their screens and back to base communication, creating a challenge – and potentially an opportunity – for brands.

7. Purpose at heart

Consumers want to see authentic purpose as part of any brand’s ethos. Brands that win hearts and minds this year will have purpose at the heart of what they do.

8. Live streaming

The move towards streaming content meets the demand for ‘in the moment content’, offering brands the opportunity for more immersive experiences for their audiences.

9. Augmented Reality

Following Pokémon Go, Augmented Reality holds huge potential for consumer brands with games, ads and apps helping to reinvigorate the market.

10. PR automation

Big data + machine learning + AI = an incredible opportunity for the whole PR and communications industry. Out go the laborious tasks of yesteryear, meaning that practitioners can focus on strategising.

11. Social media advertising

With the news that digital will overtake TV spend, 2016 saw Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram develop their ad platforms and this is likely to continue in 2017, despite the rise of ad blockers.

12. The premiumisation of journalism

The next generation of journalists moving into communications won’t be hired for their contacts book but for their ability to construct engrossing stories and get under the skin of issues. The best writers and documentary makers, with proven track records of building social communities, will be fought over.

13. Consolidation and co-operation

Clients are looking for consolidation of their marketing and communications spend across the board. Agencies need to be responsive to this need whilst simultaneously not damaging their business, creativity and licence to operate.

14. Overseas budgets will go further

When Article 50 is triggered, the pound will inevitably take a hit. A weaker pound means that budgets from overseas companies will go further than before, so we may see greater investment from international businesses.

15. Filling the skills gap

Recruitment will be a key issue again in 2017 as the industry maintains its growth. The need to constantly train and develop our skills base will be a key focus, and will help to set consultancies apart from each other.

16. Work/life balance

It would benefit our industry if comms professionals are given opportunities to explore an interest outside of work. We should also encourage talent to get into a fresh headspace via flexible working.

17. Diversity more relevant than ever

In 2016 we saw clients announce they would only work with agencies that have a diversity plan. This should be a wake-up call to all of us to improve diversity of talent.


About PRCA

Who we are: Founded in 1969, the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) is a UK-based PR and communications membership body, operating in 48 countries around the world. We represent in excess of 20,000 people across the whole range of the PR and communications industry. The PRCA promotes all aspects of public relations and communications work, helping teams and individuals maximise the value they deliver to clients and organisations.

What we do: The Association exists to raise standards in PR and communications, providing members with industry data, facilitating the sharing of communications best practice and creating networking opportunities.

How we do it and make a difference: All PRCA members are bound by a professional charter and codes of conduct, and benefit from exceptional training. The Association also works for the greater benefit of the industry, sharing best practice and lobbying on the industry’s behalf e.g. fighting the NLA’s digital licence.

ICCO President and Chief Executive Decorated with Pro PR Award

ICCO President Maxim Behar and Chief Executive Francis Ingham, who is also Director General of PRCA, are among those awarded the Pro PR Award for 2017, organisers announced yesterday in Zagreb.

Pro PR is an international conference held in Croatia for the past 15 years, and since 2002 an international committee has voted for people who have contributed to the promotion of public relations, and have increased standards in business all over the world.

“We do recognize this way the significant role of ICCO in setting new and modern standards of public relations business globally, but also its role to unite so many different countries, cultures and business visions into one world organisation”,  Danijel Koletic, President of the Organising Board of Pro PR said.

Maxim Behar, ICCO President said: “This is a great recognition for all ICCO members, for our teams and what has been done for the past couple of years in the organisation. We are also very happy with our good cooperation with the Croatian Association for Public Relations and look forward to expanding activities in the region.”

Francis Ingham, ICCO Chief Executive said: “I am deeply honoured to have been chosen for such a prestigious award. Our global PR and communications industry is the epitome of vibrancy, and if I have played some small part in adding to its lustre, then I am proud to have done so.”

A list of other award winners can be viewed here.

AMEC to provide Research Advisors for the PR Lions Awards, Research & Data Categories

AMEC, the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication, will again provide an advisory service for the Research and Measurement categories of the PR Lions awards, part of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

AMEC will provide research advisors to help firms improve their entries through a new Data & Measurement Advisory Scheme.

In the scheme, selected representatives from AMEC will be available to assist companies entering campaigns into two categories: Research, Data Analytics & Insight Generation and PR Excellence in Effectiveness.

The research advice is available on a confidential first come, first serve basis and will be allocated to the first 20 entries into each category, determined by the PR Lions organisers prior to the Festival.

Speaking on the partnership Fiorenza Plinio, Head of Awards Development at Cannes Lions, commented: “We were pleased to get AMEC on board last year to help us grow these two data and research categories. We are confident that we will attract more entries in 2017 with an increased focus on data analytics and evaluation within PR.”

“We believe the partnership with AMEC will offer entrants a unique opportunity to get strong, objective advice from industry professionals, and have the best chance of showcasing award-winning work.”

Barry Leggetter, CEO of AMEC, said: “We are delighted to again work with PR Lions to help them grow these two data and research categories. It is a practical way in which some of our most expert researchers can help enhance the PR campaigns that have produced a measureable and proven impact on a client’s business and reputation.”

2017 Advisors:

Aseem Sood, Chief Executive Officer of Impact Research & Measurement Pvt. Ltd and Director at the International Association of Measurement and Evaluation of Communication, UK (AMEC).

Barbara Bassi, international PR and communication’s measurements consultant and European Chapter Chair and Vice Chair of the Amec College and Education working group.

Colin Wheeler, Director at Understanding Expertise and Associate at the Measurement Practice, UK.

Marcus Gault, Managing Director of Kantar Media Evaluation and Board Director of global measurement body AMEC.

Darja Kupinic Guscic, Founder of Media net, the first agency in South–East Europe for measuring media communication. Founder and co-owner of MCA group, the leading SEE media monitoring and communication evaluation group.

Johna Burke, Chief Marketing Officer of BurrellesLuce, North America. Member of the PR News Measurement Hall of Fame and North-America Co-Chair of AMEC.

Khali Sakkas, Chief Executive, Insights & Research at Isentia, Asia Pacific and AMEC Board member and chair of the AMEC APAC Chapter.

Mazen Nahawi, Global CEO of CARMA, major component of News Group International.

Paul Hender, Head of Insight of Gorkana and member of the AMEC European Chapter Leadership Team.

Rayna de Lange, CEO of DeLange Analytics and member of the AMEC’s Education Group and guest lecturer on communications measurement and evaluation in several universities.

Richard Bagnall, CEO of PRIME Research UK, SVP PRIME Research Europe and Chairman of AMEC. Member of the UK Government Communications Service’s Cabinet Office Evaluation Council, UK.


About AMEC: The International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) is the leading global trade body for PR programme research, measurement and analytics. AMEC has more than 140 members in over 40 countries.

About PR Lions: Part of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the PR Lions celebrate creative PR work that tangibly build awareness, trust or increased understanding between an organization or brand and its target audiences. In 2017, Cannes Lions will be an eight-day programme of creative inspiration, celebration, education and networking, attracting over 15,000 delegates from around 100 countries. Please visit our website for more info:

For further information contact:

Fiorenza Plinio

Head of Awards Development at Cannes Lions:

Barry Leggetter


Mobile: +44 7748 677504 or +44 1268 412414: