I was very irritated

by a recent PR Daily post, “Advertising vs. PR: How to measure the value of editorial coverage (thank you, Heather Whaling, for pointing me to it).

If you haven’t read it yet

””though I’ll be amazed if there’s a PR pro worth her pink boots who hasn’t read it yet, and men, don’t even try to get cute with me on that””

it’s a very weird justification of AVE (ad value equivalency) as a measure of “PR,” which the author equates to “publicity” (something else I am so tired of hearing).

And if you don’t know it yet, I think AVE, which essentially tries to assign a dollar figure to the “value of publicity” in advertising terms, is bunkum.

You heard me right.

Bunkum.

Image: Vectorportal via Flickr, CC 2.0

Also hogwash, drivel, poppycock and hooey.

Oh, and piffle.

Definitely piffle.

But what was most baffling was that this was published in PR Daily.

One of the most well-known trades in our business.

I mean, this would be like… I don’t know… TIME getting Sarah Palin to write an op-ed on animal welfare.

It got me so irritated that, while prepping for two client calls and meetings, I tweeted Mark Ragan, questioning the validity of running such a post:

Now, Mark has always been very nice to me, but we’re not exactly bosom buddies.

So I was impressed when he responded to me via DM, asking if I’d be interested in writing a rebuttal post for PRD.

Interested?

Does a cow like grass?

Do basset hounds look funny when they run? (Thanks, Bonnie Upright, for sending that my way.)

Is the moon made of blue cheese? OK, that last one doesn’t work, but you get what I mean.

By the time I started writing the post

I’d already commented on the original, commented on a reply to my comment, and commented on a rebuttal post that Chuck Hemann published on his own blog (read it, it’s terrific).

Over and above this, the author of the original post has been beaten up quite enough by all of us, and I wouldn’t blame her if she went into hiding for a few days.

So I wondered if I was really up to re-re-re-re-rebutting it.

But you know what?

When you write rubbish, you should be called out on it.

Especially when you write rubbish that not just you, but your agency has to stand by, since your byline states, quite clearly, that you are an employee of such-and-such agency.

I’ve been called out when people have thought I’ve written BS.

And I’ve done my own share of ranting, which I’m doing now as well.

Strange as it may seem,

I don’t really like to rant as a matter of course.

I don’t frequent bloggers who make a habit of ranting because, quite frankly, they start to bore me.

And, most of all, I don’t want to become predictably pompous because of said rants.

I mean, who likes pompous asses? I certainly don’t.

Image: p.Gordon via Flickr, CC 2.0

This time, however, it’s different.

The post that has so many of us riled up isn’t just any post you can yawn at and say, “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about,” though that seems to be the case here.

It’s been given at least some semblance of credibility by virtue of its platform.

So I will re-re-re-re-rebut as best I can.

If Ragan publishes it, fabulous.

If not, I’ll just publish it here.

Here is part of my comment on the original post, so that you can see what I mean about credibility (typos included but reformatted for WUL so that it’s easier for you to read, and emphasis/italicization for WUL only):

… there’s the question of what happens after a piece is published. Because if that publicity””assuming it’s positive in all the ways one wants it to be””doesn’t translate into business results, what’s the point?

Let’s take this post, for example.

You scored big time by having Ragan publish it (though I’m dying to know what the AVE is, please, please tell me).

I imagine that since it published yesterday, your firm’s website and, possibly, blog, have seen increased traffic since this piece published.

However, has it bolstered your reputation as a professional and, by association, that of your firm?

Is it getting you kudos and “attagirls”?

Is it resulting in increased blog subscribers and new business inquiries?

Did your newsletter subscribers just seen an upswing?

Or has it just put the Wakeman Agency on the list of “PR agencies” never to refer business to?

I know what my answer would be to my questions above (no, no, no, no and yes).

The tragedy of pieces such as yours is that many businesses, who are genuinely trying to understand how to measure their PR efforts, might think this is the way to do it, by virtue of the fact that it published in PRD.

As one of the major trades in our business, Ragan & PRD should have known better.

As an industry professional with “nearly a decade” of experience, YOU should know better.

I can let many things go,

because life is too short to get irritated by everything that warrants it.

But not this one.

Because, as PR professionals, we should know better.

Practitioners, publishers, academics, students””all of us.

Remember what Peter Pan said?

“Every time a child says, ‘I don’t believe in fairies,’ there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead.’ “

Every time any of us gives credence to AVE, the practice of public relations is set back by at least a couple of decades, if not a century or more.

So.

As Chuck asked in his post, can I get an witness?

Shonali Burke
Founder and publisher of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke helps smart businesses make bank by taking their communications from corporate codswallop to community cool™. She is also the founder of The Social PR Virtuoso®, which provides online, on-demand training that helps you unleash your inner Social PR superhero. Shonali is mad about ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis, though not necessarily in that order. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke