Public Relations Measurement | The Barcelona Principles 2.0

Public relations measurement is both an evolving art and evolving science. Practitioners of PR endeavor to adopt emerging methods for serving their organizations and clients in an ever better fashion. Measuring the effectiveness and impact of PR has moved past the crude Advertising Value Equivalents (AVEs) many used in the past, if they measured results at all. The Barcelona Principles are an aggregation of new “best practices” for PR measurement as ratified July 19, 2010. On September 3, 2015, the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication released the following updates to the original framework. I’d be happy to discuss how this may impact your measurement program. 

–Austin Gaule, Media Measurement Director, Universal Information Services

The Seven Barcelona Principles as revised (2.0) Barcelona Principles Universal Information Services

1. Goal Setting and Measurement are Fundamental to Communication and Public Relations: While the Barcelona Principles were intended to provide a foundation for PR programs, the updated Principles recognize that they can also be applied to the larger communication function of any organization, government, company or brand globally. In fact, measurement, evaluation and goal-setting should be holistic across media and paid, earned, owned and shared channels.

2. Measuring Communication Outcomes is Recommended Versus Only Measuring Outputs: The updated Principle is more encompassing of the role of qualitative methods. While the original Principle stated quantitative methods of measuring outcomes were “often preferable,” the updated Principle recognizes that the use of qualitative methods (along with quantitative) should be used as appropriate. The updated Principle also specifically calls out advocacy as an outcome that can (and should) be measured.

3. The Effect on Organizational Performance Can and Should Be Measured Where Possible: The updated Principle emphasizes that communications impact more than just business results; rather communications can impact the overall performance of an organization. To do this, organizations must have, and practitioners must understand, integrated marketing and communication models. The PR channel does not exist in a silo, nor should PR measures.

4. Measurement and Evaluation Require Both Qualitative and Quantitative Methods: The updated Principle recognizes that qualitative measures are often needed in order to explain “the why” behind the quantitative outcomes. In addition, the updated Principle reminds practitioners that to be truly objective, we need focus on measuring performance (be it positive, negative or neutral), and avoid making assumptions that results will always be positive or “successful.”

5. AVEs are not the Value of Communications: The updated Principle continues to underline that Advertising Value Equivalents (AVEs) measure the cost of media space or time and do not measure the value of PR or communication, media content, earned media, etc.

6. Social Media Can and Should be Measured Consistently with Other Media Channels: The updated Principle recognizes that social media measurement tools have evolved to a point where there is greater potential for consistent measurement on engagement, along with quantity and quality.

7. Measurement and Evaluation Should be Transparent, Consistent and Valid: In the spirit of integrity, honesty and openness, the updated Principle includes more specific guidance valid quantitative and qualitative methods in an effort to ensure quantitative methods are reliable and replicable and qualitative methods are trustworthy. Show your process and calculations. Your analysis, or analysis service should include all data related to results so you can verify the reliability and “know” where your results come from. Be wary of automated results. Computers still can’t reason for tone, sentiment, message points, and other qualitative measures.


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