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Advertising Value Equivalency: Does It Truly Measure Value of Media Coverage?

Some people think that a cash value should be assigned to any earned publicity. Others realize it’s not a legitimate comparison.

Recently Wall Street Journal columnist Carl Bialik, The Numbers Guy, addressed the subject of advertising value equivalency AVE. This is perhaps the first example of a mainstream media publication shining a light of the controversial practice of AVEs.

The primary reason advertising value equivalents exist are because they are perceived to be a way to attribute value to programs that would otherwise be difficult to value directly. They are a path of least resistance approach to return on investment calculations, but not a valid one.

via AVEs don’t measure the value of media coverage; they sensationalize it | Articles.

There are many reasons why this assertion by Don Bartholomew over at Ragan is right (Click on the link above to read the entire post–well worth it). But  the main reason I see is a simple one:

Buying an ad doesn’t render the same credibility as earning a positive story or mention in the media.

Some may say this is naive, as getting a story on the news doesn’t necessarily mean it has merit, but it certainly is more likely to have greater weight with most consumers than a glossy ad.

Simple question: what impresses you more, an ad about a company during the local news or a positive story about that company on the local news? If you agree that a story is worth more than an ad, then a cash equivalency is a ridiculously useless concept.

Singer-Songwriter Dan Coyle Promises "Best Album Yet"

Dan Coyle at the Record Bar in Kansas City in 2010.

Singer-Songwriter Dan Coyle announced he will release a new album on September 1, 2011, and he promises it will be his best.

Coyle, an internationally touring folk songwriter from New York City, will begin recording of the album in Berlin this August.

“I’ve really taken a lot of time to craft these songs and have no doubt that this will be my best work yet,” said the modern-day troubadour.

“Since we’ve been touring Europe with such success this year, I decided to write and record everything here,” he said. “Half the album will be stories inspired by our travels; the other half will consist of thoughtful songs similar to what you’ve heard from me previously–but with a keener focus on melodies and lyrics.”

In addition to the new album, Coyle is offering an entire line of high-quality merchandise to coincide with its release.

“We’re filming a ‘Making of the Album’ DVD that will be released along with the album, as well as new tee shirts, a Dan Coyle songbook and posters. It’s a very exciting time for me,” the songwriter explained.

A longtime practitioner of the “guerilla” music and recording scene–where Coyle has performed almost every task in the writing, performing, recording and production of previous albums–the road veteran is taking a more collaborative track with the new album.

“From the sound engineer and film editor in Berlin to the graphic designer in Paris to the CD production to the tee shirt manufacturing in the US, it will be my most polished and collaborative album yet,” he said. “I want every aspect of the album and merchandise to reflect that,” Coyle said.

Coyle is currently touring Europe for the remainder of 2011, and considering the option to extend the tour into 2012. You can find Dan’s music at dancoyle.com and pre-order his upcoming album at order.dancoyle.com.

“By pre-ordering the album folks will get everything at a discounted price, and there are a lot of extras that they will only be able to get during pre-sale,” said Coyle.

Join Dan’s friends and fans on Facebook. Click here.

Disclosure: Dan Coyle is a friend and occasional client of AlexanderG Public Relations.

Happy Independence Day!

The Limited: Investing in Communities

I’ve had the pleasure of working with the iconic women’s fashion retailer The Limited this year. The Limited has posted some impressive gains in market share recently under the vibrant, progressive leadership of CEO Linda Heasley. However, I think what impresses me most is the company’s investment in the communities their stores call home.

For example, here in Kansas City The Limited gave fashion makeovers to clients of the Women’s Employment Network and donated a share of opening weekend proceeds to this vital non-profit organization dedicated to helping women help themselves.

In Dallas the Dress For Success store received a makeover from the pros of The Limited:

That kind of commitment to being invested in a community speaks volumes about the heart and soul of a company. We’re all taught in Sunday school or its equivalent to give of ourselves, and in a cynical age it’s refreshing to work with a company that takes that lesson to heart and lives it.

PR Tip #264: Use Scope

Minty fresh projects!

One of the key things to remember when you’re working with a public relations firm or consultant on a project is to agree on scope–and we don’t mean minty fresh breath (though that helps).

Scope is what you hire your PR pro to work on and deliver. Scope covers what’s most important to you, the client–and prevents “mission creep.” If scope is set at the beginning–and adhered to by the client and the consultant–it’s a huge factor in preventing failure of a project.

My PRCG colleague Sharon Kreher sums this up nicely;

Too often, we assume that our benchmark for success is the same as our client’s.  But how often have you found out at the end of the day that while you feel you’ve hit all the important targets, your client feels you’ve missed the one that he/she values the most.  Talking about what success looks like at the beginning of the project allows you to incorporate the right measurement tools into the planning and everyone on the team knows what it will take to have a happy client.  It also gives you a chance to explain up-front why some expectations aren’t realistic – a much better time to have that conversation than at end of the program!

Simply: if TV coverage is your top priority, make sure that’s in the scope of work so your PR team doesn’t spend all their time trying to get you in the newspaper.

The mission creep aspect is also part of this equation–it happens when a client decides he wants to add something to the project midstream. That usually translates into the PR firm losing focus and/or doing work that wasn’t part of the agreed-upon compensation.

We build scope of the project into every contract. Why? Well, let’s just say that we learned the hard way. Human nature being what it is, a conversation is almost never remembered by two people in exactly the same way. Best to get it in writing from the get-go. This applies to process as well as “big picture” project work.

A process example: A client hires us to write and distribute a press release (yes, press releases still exist) for his new company. Since we’ve written press releases for a long time, we view it as a fairly simple process and say “you betcha.”

However, we fail to stipulate exactly what press release writing and distribution entails (generally the process is research, initial draft writing, edits by the client, presentation of the rewritten release draft and a final polish). The client feels that since he’s paying for a press release he can make tweaks to the press release ad infinitum, so he changes parts of the release draft on a daily basis and wants several rewrites “to see how it looks that way.”

Long story short, a job that should take four to six hours drags out to twice as long and we have to put our foot down. The client feels slighted and it’s our fault, not the client’s because we weren’t clear about the scope of work.

So, your PR tip for the day: be clear with your PR pro about your expectations from the get-go, and make sure the PR pro gets it. Never assume (our favorite take on making assumptions is covered in this previous post) anything unless you have it on paper and it’s signed off by both parties. Make sure you understand processes–large and small. You’re more likely to have a minty fresh experience if you do.

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