Ten years ago, we made the decision, along with a rather forward thinking client who worked with us as our test brand, to boldly move away from traditional PR evaluating systems of AVE (advertising value equivalents) and crazy reach figures.

AVE relates to the cost of buying the space taken up by a particular article, had the article been an advertisement. However, at this time many in the industry were starting to question if this system was sound, arguing that it was a ‘crude’ approach that didn’t take account of the tone of each piece, and ultimately that PR is not advertising and therefore should not be compared with it.

Pioneering a new approach took guts (from us and our clients). But ten years on, our bespoke SMI (Wild Card Smart Media Index® a registered trademark of Wild Card Public Relations Ltd.) is now our principal media evaluation tool.  It provides a numerical system for evaluating editorial coverage across traditional, online and social media, working on the basis of points and moving away from the traditional and often abused circulation/AVE processes.

A smart approach to media relations is how our sister agency Wild Card established a reputation as one of the UK’s leading lifestyle PR agencies, and it is what underpins all our work at Wild West. Today, much time is spent ensuring our teams understand the exact requirements for media space for each brand and its stories.  This is the central component to media relations success.

Here’s a little more about our Smart Media Index:

  • A numerical system which encourages agency focus on key target media / programmes / key messages delivery / image inclusion / links and calls to action
  • Providing a benchmark for client assessment
  • It can be quickly absorbed and easily updated on a monthly basis
  • Complements qualitative assessment of messages

Put simply – media results, across all platforms, are scored according to quality and the potential impact they can create.

Agencies have to be fully accountable to KPIs, and SMI is a fully traceable and transparent system that allows us to evaluate our PR campaigns and provide clients with that all important ROI data.


Georgie Upton - Divisional Director at Wild West Comms

Words: Georgie Upton

Divisional Director at Wild West Comms