The use of AVE is controversial, and many communications professionals are rightly sceptical about how useful the results are. Employing a basic formula of the volume of any media coverage achieved multiplied by the rate that would be charged for advertising space in that media outlet lacks discrimination – between which media outlets might be most relevant to the campaign’s client; the sentiment of the coverage; and specific audience response. AVE is a very blunt instrument for an increasingly sophisticated sector.
Dissatisfaction with AVE catalysed the impetus for a broader framework that could measure more than the basic dollar equivalency of media coverage achieved by a PR campaign. Standards such as integrity, transparency and ethics also need to be evaluated, along with the removal of bias and subjectivity in measurement. Currently, the Barcelona Principles offer the best means available of demonstrating all of these elements of communications teams’ work.
First agreed in 2010 by an international gathering of PR practitioners, the framework has admittedly taken time to gain significant traction in the industry. But as the media landscape becomes more complex, and PR teams need more nuanced ways of measuring and demonstrating the value of their results, we see adoption of the Barcelona Principles picking up pace. This has been helped by more refined iterations – 2.0 in 2015 and 3.0 in 2020 – as the industry responds to a rapidly evolving communications topography, including the rise of social media platforms and more diverse audiences who interact with given media outlets in new ways.