Karoline (with a K) is not happy. She has the look of a let-go Makro manager who's just discovered her pension is in Cranswick shares.

"It used to be so simple," she complains. "Clients would do anything I proposed, whatever the budget."

At this point she goes a bit misty-eyed and recalls the big money campaigns of old: the time we built the Forth Road Bridge (1:20 scale) out of Spam "because it was doing well in Scotland"; the 'Can you fight your way out of a paper bag?' event in Hyde Park to highlight the plight of ME sufferers, with 150 of them stuck for two days; the Songs For Sausages festival at the Albert Hall, with Zeppelin-sized inflatable 'sizzling' bangers floating outside and dripping realistic imitation fat on to the landmark's dome.

Times have changed: "Now they demand justification for their PR investment. Things like ROI and BCOs." Apparently this stands for behaviour-changing outcomes, something which we PR folk have always found it difficult to a) achieve and b) measure. Up until now we have got away with AVEs advertising value equivalents as the measure of effectiveness.

This is basically finding out what the space you got for free would have cost at full ratecard (and who pays ratecard?) and then multiplying it by an arbitrary 'PR factor'. At P&F we now multiply everything by 4.5 (which we describe as the "new industry standard"). It makes the results look much better than multiplying by three.

Worried that I may need to be self-sufficient before too long if the requirement to justify what I do at work continues, I have joined 700,000 other Britons and started keeping chickens. Well, one chicken there's a limit to how intensively you can stock a Hampstead flat balcony.

So far, a lot of crowing at 4am and no eggs. Am I doing something wrong?

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