Guest post by Sean Williams

[Ed: I’ve been out in beautiful Eugene, Ore., for the last few days, speaking on measurement at the 2011 Oregon Governor’s Conference on Tourism.

Somehow, it didn’t seem right to cancel Tuesday’s #measurePR Twitter chat… when I’d be speaking on measurement.

So I asked my good friend and measurement guru Sean Williams to guest-moderate the chat.

What follows is his recap. Emphasis/ital are mine, not Sean’s; and the tweets have not been edited, so please roll with typos, etc., as you would on Twitter.]

The April 12 #measurePR was a spirited affair, featuring

55 minutes of near universal agreement that there’s too much crappy measurement out there, and

nearly a half-hour more time debating Ad Value Equivalency and

whether ROI can be anything other than a quantitative term.

[Ed: HALF AN HOUR on AVE?! Good grief!]

It was a rollicking chat, more than 250 tweets, around three questions:

  1. @CommAMMO Each of us has a personal Bete Noir — mine is “value of a Facebook fan. Q1: Why do people think 1 size fits all? #measurepr -12:07 PM Apr 12th, 2011
  2. @CommAMMO Q2: ROI is a financial term. How does it apply to SocMed & mainstream PR? #measurepr -12:29 PM Apr 12th, 2011
  3. @CommAMMO @kdpaine says HITS is How Idiots Track Success. What should AVE stand for? Q3 #measurepr -12:51 PM Apr 12th, 2011

The question of facile answers to complex questions centered on the Facebook fan question, which I’d lamented several times, most notably a month ago.

But the crowd still wanted blood.


  • @deannaboss: re Q1: igiving $ value to FB fans fits old style msmt, applying yesterday’s rules to today’s practices. #measurepr -12:21 PM Apr 12th, 2011
  • @alanchumley: value of a Facebook fan. Meaningless metric if we arbitrary assign loose value to it. If drives 2transcn grt. #measurepr -12:22 PM Apr 12th, 2011
  • @jenzings: Unless tie a result to a like purch/activity means 0. Not even permission to advertise, according 2 some studies. #measurePR -12:21 PM Apr 12th, 2011

Sometimes, you crack open a can of worms with your answers …

  • @CommAMMO There surely are good reasons to build a FB community, even if only marketing-related. But Marketing and PR are not the same! #measurepr -12:20 PM Apr 12th, 2011
  • @mikedonatello: In fact, PR is an element of marketing, not a separate animal. #measurepr -12:28 PM Apr 12th, 2011
  • @kdpaine @mikedonatello not necessarily. PR is part of corp. reputation in many organizations – goals are very different #measurepr -12:28 PM Apr 12th, 2011

This led to a sidebar conversation about the difference between marketing and PR, and the various reasons why we argue about it.

Is marketing about selling stuff, or is that sales?

Are reputation, issues management and media relations part of a promotional effort?

  • @mikedonatello PR falls under “Promotion” in the 4P’s, regardless of whether promo is narrowly def. as sales supprt or more broadly as rep mgmt. #measurepr -12:29 PM Apr 12th, 2011
  • @alanchumley Oh man! gauntlet thrown down. Publicity and PR in the same sentence. #measurepr Late 1800’s are calling they want Barnum & Bailey back. -12:29 PM Apr 12th, 2011

And that was just the first half-hour!

[Ed: Go, Alan, Go!]

On Q2 РROI (his self-proclaimed b̻te noire) @AlanChumley carried the water, and @Gnosisarts sloshed it around some, while others tossed in their cups too:

CommAMMO Q2: ROI is a financial term. How does it apply to SocMed & mainstream PR? #measurepr -12:29 PM Apr 12th, 2011

  • @jenzings A2: IMHO, Soc Med/Mnstream PR are both investments (I). Want to have a budget? Prove the R on the I. #MeasurePR -12:31 PM Apr 12th, 2011
  • @alanchumley ROI If it ain’t a workable (not conceptual) equation it ain’t ROI Misused often as an intermediate loose proxy metric. #measurepr -12:33 PM Apr 12th, 2011
  • @alanchumley ROI easy a pie if you’ve set meas’ objectives and chosen the right metrics methods. #measurepr. Can’t skip to the end and still calc. ROI -12:36 PM Apr 12th, 2011
  • @gnosisarts Q2 Yes but my personal view is ROI isn’t just quantitative. It does have a qualitative component #measurepr -12:49 PM Apr 12th, 2011
  • @alanchumley What in the heck is a qualitative ROI?! RT @GnosisArts: Q2 And, if ROI is solely quantitative, PR profs are in trouble! #measurepr -12:51 PM Apr 12th, 2011
  • @gnosisarts @CommAMMO @alanchumley If I create a SoMe promo that generates widespread buzz among followers in minutes, there is an ROI there #measurepr -12:55 PM Apr 12th, 2011
  • @alanchumley Not financial ROI. Valuable yes. RT @GnosisArts: create a SoMe promo that generates buzz w/ followers in minutes, that’s ROI #measurepr -12:57 PM Apr 12th, 2011

The debate, as it were, was over whether ROI can be anything but financial and quantitative. I still think the answer is NO – it’s a financial measure, well understood.

Q3 was everyone’s favorite whipping boy, Ad Value Equivalency.

Big shocker, right?

But the shock was @Gnosisarts playing AVE defense:

  • @mikedonatello A3: As typically defined, AVE stands for nothing. It’s a metric based on a false premise (or a bunch of them). #measurepr -12:53 PM Apr 12th, 2011
  • @jenzings A3: it doesn’t–and shouldn’t–stand for anything. AVE is a nonsense metric that should be relegated to the graveyard. #MeasurePR -12:54 PM Apr 12th, 2011
  • @jenzings @mikedonatello I think that is the biggest challenge in PR and Marketing. Getting ppl 2 stop using AVE. #MeasurePR -12:58 PM Apr 12th, 2011
  • @gnosisarts There’s nothing illogical w/ the concept of AVE in itself. What’s so wrong with it? #dontthrowanything #measurepr -1:03 PM Apr 12th, 2011
  • @CommAMMO @gnosisarts Short version: AVE assumes all comms are equal to ads, research sez not. AVE expresses value as media placement only #measurepr -1:07 PM Apr 12th, 2011
  • @CommAMMO @gnosisarts The base concept of AVE is the E – it requires us to bleive that perception of editorial and ad are equiv. 1/2 #measurepr -1:14 PM Apr 12th, 2011

And, here are the“What should AVE stand for?” replies:

  • @dibbler46 – A Vapid Example.
  • @mikedonatello – Appropriately Villified Equation?
  • @kdpaine –  assessment by voodoo economics
  • @CommAMMO – aside from a scourge on humanity, an evil pseudo-metric… Absolutely Valueless Evasion…

A good time was had by all.

P.s., with the death of WTHashtag, our trusty if cumbersome transcript is out of the picture.

So here’s a PDF of the April 12 #measurePR Twitter stream, starting from the end and going backward, copy-pasted from Tweetchat.

[Ed: That means you have to start at the bottom and make your way up.]

Phooey, but better than nothing I suppose.

Worth slogging through it…

[Ed: Many thanks for hosting such a great chat, Sean!

Folks, Sean moderates #icchat on a regular basis, focusing on internal communications. The chat takes place monthly on the 3rd Thursday, beginning at 10 am ET.

So the next #icchat is on Thursday, April 21, at 10 am ET. You should join, it’s fun.]

Image: highstrungloner via Flickr, CC 2.0

Sean Williams is the owner of Communication AMMO, Inc. He helps leaders improve their communication skills, build strategic communication plans, strengthen internal communication capabilities and effectively measure the results. His clients include Avery Dennison, Kellogg’s, The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, U.S. Endoscopy, and KeyBank. He also is an adjunct professor of Public Relations at Kent State University since 2009, where he teaches a new course on PR Metrics beginning in 2011.