I guess we should expect to be standing on the naughty step almost full time in the future if the Chartered Institute of Public Relations goes ahead with its plan this Autumn to take disciplinary action against PR agencies who use AVE as a measurement. Except, this is another good reason why we do not belong to an organisation that thinks it has the right to be so prescriptive on the thorny question of measurement. Shame they don’t speak to our clients, all of whom welcome a form of commitment which makes their investment secure.
As one of, if the not the first, PR company to introduce ‘guarantees’ I have taken my full share of brick-backs over the years along with comparisons to snake oil salesman and the like. I’ve even endured the reign of two MDs who came determined to ‘help’ me see the light by abandoning our long-standing positioning and succeeded on both occasions to take the company into a downward plunge by softening our proposition. No thank you, we will stick with AVEs as one of the measurement criteria within our commitment to clients, until such time as a better, equally client-friendly, more scientific means becomes possible.
I still believe that at the heart of this debate is the inherent reluctance of PR agencies to stand up and be accountable. Believe me, there is no stronger message to a potential client than the willingness of its agency to have skin in the game by guaranteeing outcomes. This commitment to be true partners accounts for the strength and growth we are enjoying at Spider. And it’s not just traditional PR, our digital marketing team is equally definitive on what will be achieved and a financial penalty attached in the event we fail. Incidentally, we never fail! The last time we had to issue a rebate was over 7 years ago and it’s not because we set low guarantees, it is because we go through the additional check before signing new clients: are we sure we can deliver? If not, we walk away.