Last year, AMEC's Barcelona Summit aimed to consign AVEs to the dustbin of PR history. It is hardly worth mentioning, but there will be no argument here with that approach. Determining a replacement for those much-maligned AVEs is another matter altogether. At our ThinkTank Live Summit last month, Weber Shandwick CEO Harris Diamond called for a simple universal measure that the PR industry could adopt, in much the same way that reach and frequency metrics helped the advertising industry corral a huge proportion of marketing budgets. Does such a silver bullet exist? Public relations is a discipline that, increasingly, trades in complexity. And measuring output does not quantify the outcomes that PR practitioners are expected to deliver. One campaign may call for a sales hike, another for issues advocacy and a third for an improved reputation. Can any one metric apply universally across all of these types of programmes? AMEC thinks not, and has instead come up with an approach it calls 'valid metrics'. At a workshop during the summit, Hill & Knowlton's Ruth Pestana and AMEC chairman Mike Daniels explained the initiative, which maps the five classic stages of marketing against PR activity, intermediary effect, and target audience effect. The presentation above features several examples 'valid metrics' in action, using case studies such as Pepsi Refresh, Haagen-Dazs Honeybees and Frito-Lay. The hope is that this approach will, eventually, become an accepted standard among agencies and clients. It is not quite a silver bullet, and that may be the problem. Valid metrics undoubtedly do a sterling job of reflecting PR's inherent complexity, but the wealth of information may prove too much for time-strapped CCOs and CMOs to digest. Neither do they allow for different PR campaigns to be easily compared. Those are concerns which lie at the heart of the PR measurement quandary, and are unlikely to be resolved any time soon. Still, AMEC must be commended for embarking on the long-overdue effort to eliminate AVEs from the PR lexicon.