by helen on March 29, 2011

We all like to think that our time is well spent, that we aren’t working to achieve the impossible, and that what we are doing is making a difference. At least, that’s what I like to think about everything I do – at work and in my personal life.

But how do we work out whether what we spend our time doing is valued or valuable?

I think the answer lies in establishing the purpose of the action. What is its aim? Without a well defined goal, it becomes very difficult to evaluate whether a plan of action has been successful.

I was reminded of this during a visit to my son’s primary school, where the staff held a curriculum evening for parents with the aim of giving us an insight into their teaching and assessment methods.

During the welcome speech, the headteacher referred to a phrase which had made a big impression on her – and which she shared with us to demonstrate her “thinking” on education.

We must learn to measure what we value, rather than valuing what we can easily measure. (The Intelligent School – MacGilchrist, Reed & Myers).

Now you’ve read it, read it again and think about it.

Powerful isn’t it?

And it’s very relevant to the debate about evaluating PR and social media campaigns which concerns both practitioners and the organisations funding the campaigns.

In the past, a PR agency was judged on the success of its campaigns. Sometimes this was nothing more than the amount of media coverage generated. By measuring the column inches and their equivalent advertising cost, businesses were able to judge whether they were getting a good return on their monthly PR retainer or in-house equivalent.

More recently, social media campaigns have been judged on the number of Twitter followers or Facebook “likes” they have generated.

Both are clearly cases of valuing what can easily be measured.

After years of controversy, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has banned the use of AVEs (advertising value equivalent) in its annual awards, as has the industry’s media title PR Week. Here’s what Wolfstar chief and PR guy Stuart Bruce has to say on the end of the line for AVEs.   

So now we can all concentrate on learning to measure what we value – by setting measurable business goals for our PR and social media campaigns. 

How do you measure what you value?

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