PR is the practice of forming a story, and presenting it to forward your agenda, your agenda being, but not limited to, earning your organization media recognition, and creating mutually beneficial relationships with people in and covering the industry.
But like any other communications practice, the effect of a PR Strategy you apply is highly unpredictable. Generally, PR is a lot about trial and error – you can never know what is going to make the largest impact.
Despite it being an inexact science, there has been a need felt to be able to measure the effect of PR outreach. As a result, The Barcelona Principles came into existence.
The Barcelona Principles (Barcelona Declaration of Research Principles) is a set of seven guidelines established by *AMEC to measure the efficiency of PR campaigns. While the first set of principles focused on the quantitative measurements and don’ts of measuring efficiency, later revisions of these have become universally inclusive, focusing more on qualitative best practices for communication strategies.
The original Barcelona Principles read –
1. Importance of goal setting and measurement
2. Measuring the effect on outcomes is preferred to measuring outputs
3. The effect on business results can and should be measured where possible
4. Media measurements requires quantity and quality
5. **AVEs (Advertising Value Equivalent) is not the value of Public Relations
6. Social Media can and should be measured
7. Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement
These principles were updated in 2015 and dubbed “The Barcelona Principles 2.0”, which read –
1. Goal setting and measurement are fundamental to communication and public relations
2. Measuring communication outcomes is recommended versus only measuring outputs
3. The effect on organizational performance can and should be measured where possible
4. Measurement and evaluation require both qualitative and quantitative methods
5. AVEs are not the value of communication
6. Social media can and should be measured consistently with other media channels
7. Measurement and evaluation should be transparent, consistent, and valid
These principles also included more directions for evaluators. These directions were as follows –
Principle 1 — Goal setting and measurement are fundamental to communication and public relations
This principle prescribes measuring goals against the SMART evaluation system, which calls for goals to be Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. It also emphasizes the need to be holistic and includes traditional and social media, while also being consistent and integrated across paid, earned, shared, and owned channels. It also states that goals can be either qualitative or quantitative but need to identify the who, what, how much, and by when and goal-makers need to remain aware of changes in the information shared with key stakeholders and their comprehension, attitude, and behavior towards modified goals.
Principle 2 — Measuring communication outcomes is recommended versus only measuring outputs
This principle prescribes creating tailored practices that measure not only the output of a communication program but also the outcome. This can be done by conducting customized target audience research.
the outcome of communication can be measured by monitoring a change in –
• Brand Awareness
• Advocacy Related to Purchases
• Brand Equity
• Corporate Reputation
• Employee Engagement
• Investment Decisions
• Other Shifts in Stakeholders
Principle 3 — The effect on organizational performance can and should be measured where possible
This principle states that the effects of communication programs on organizational performance, in terms of Profitability, Customer Quality, Revenue, Market Share, and Customer Retention be measured as often as possible. The use of models that can efficiently quantify the effects of communication is prescribed. Additionally, communication measures such as advanced survey analysis and advanced econometrics should be utilized to acquire input into integrated marketing and communication models.
Principle 4 — Measurement and evaluation require both qualitative and quantitative methods
This principle defines some of the perimeters used for measurement and evaluation of the effect of communication programs and states that the qualitative methods of measurement may be better in some cases.
Media measurement, it states, should account for
• Credibility and Relevance Message Delivery
• 3rd party or company spokesperson
• Prominence as Relevant to the Medium
Principle 5 — AVEs are not the value of communication
This principle is explained clearly in 2 parts. It states that practitioners SHOULD NOT –
• Use AVEs to evaluate communication programs.
• Use multipliers for “pass-along values” for earned media and paid media. Since there can rarely be an equation between the two, there should be an alternative method used to compare the two.
Instead, the prescribed method of comparison is to use –
• Advertising rates that are relevant to the client, keeping in mind the quality and time of coverage and the physical space of the portions of coverage that are relevant to the brand.
Principle 6 — Social Media can and should be measured consistently with other media channels
This principle states that social media should also have evaluations based on quality and quantity of content, consistent with traditional media channels. In order to do this, measurement should be focused on engagement, conversation, and community building, rather than coverage and likes.
Measurement methods that should be included are –
• Media Content Analysis
• Web and Search Analytics
• Sales and CRM Data
• Survey Data
Principle 7 — Measurement and evaluation should be transparent, consistent, and valid
This principle ensures that evaluators are aware of the codes of evaluation. They are listed as –
1) Ensure integrity, honesty, openness, and ethical practices
2) Use valid methods
a) Quantitative = Reliable and replicable
b) Qualitative = Trustworthy
3) Consider other relevant standards, like:
a) For Media Measurement:
i) Source of the content along with criteria used for collection
ii) Analysis methodology
iii) For Primary Research:
v) Verbatim questions
vi) Statistical methodology
b) Recognize any potential biasing effects
i) In the research itself, or
ii) Broader societal context
*The AMEC | International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (amecorg.com) is a UK-based global trade association for companies that provide social media measurement and traditional media measurement, evaluation, and communication research.
** AVE refers to the cost of buying the space taken up by a particular article, had the article been an advertisement.
For the latest update on The Barcelona Principles, move over to this Insight from the Public Relations Manual.