According to blogger Katie Payne, a new study was unveiled at the Summit on Measurement last week by well-known public relations researchers Don Stacks and David Michaelson showing that multipliers, a measurement tool long used by some in public relations, is probably not valid.
Here is how a multiplier works. To get what are often referred to as “PR Impressions,” you gather the clips, calculate the number of impressions and then and then multiply the number by two or three – since it is obvious that public relations is much more effective than paid advertisements. Right?
Wrong! Or at least that is what the new study says.
Taking this a little further, you apply an advertising value that calculates how much the space the article ran in would have cost if you had to buy it and then divide it by the number of PR impressions to show a very low cost per million.
Are you are using any of these techniques to prove the value of PR to a client? If so, it is time to refresh your knowledge about research. There is quite a body of knowledge building up to refute these “methods.”
There is some good news in all of this. The study, which isn’t available online at this point, showed that PR is just as effective as advertising for product launches (which is what was tested). And as most of us know, PR is usually cheaper than advertising.
A weakness in the study is that they used a best-case scenario for the PR instrument, using an article in the editorial” in the New York Times, with an endorsement for the product (in this case, Chips for dieters) from the FDA.
Katie reports that the study showed that of people exposed to the editorial, fewer reported responded “don’t know” to questions about their feelings/knowledge about the chips.
You can download some other papers about the fallacies of multipliers and advertising equivalencies at the Institute for Public Relations Website. The site is a wealth of free information about public relations research.