The Barcelona Principles: Breaking Down the Art of PR

“How do you measure PR?” This age-old question has confounded industry professionals and business clients alike for some time. Over the past year, a concerted effort has been made globally to define standard metrics that support qualitative and quantitative measurement. Known as the “Barcelona Principles,” these seven metrics have been endorsed by a wide range of leading public relations associations, including two organizations – the Worldcom Public Relations Group and the Public Relations Society of America – of which RLF Communications has proud and active memberships.
The Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles, originally published in 2010, provides guidelines for performance metrics. The seven principles aim to increase the validity of both quantitative and qualitative measurements, and define meaningful public relations data.
The seven metrics include:

  1. The importance of goal setting and measurement
  2. Measuring the effect of outcomes is preferred to measuring outputs
  3. Measuring the effect on business results where possible
  4. Media measurement requires quantity and quality
  5. Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) does not accurately capture the value of public relations
  6. Social media can and should be measured
  7. Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement

In 2009, a survey conducted by the American Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) and Institute for Public Relations (IPR) found that 88 percent of the 520 global public relations professionals interviewed believed measurement was an integral part of the process and 77 percent were tracking their programs. By defining the measurement process through the Barcelona Principles, industry professionals will now be able to better define return on investment for clients.
The principles were formally published at the second annual European Summit on Measurement and have since been endorsed by the Global Alliance, the Institute for Public Relations, the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC), the International Communications Consultancy Organization (ICCO), the Worldcom Public Relations Group and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).  These organizations use the metrics to align campaigns with client business goals and facilitate strategic bottom lines.
At RLF, we recommend consistent evaluation in order to measure initiatives and campaigns.
As we undertake 2012 planning efforts with clients this fall, we will pay particular attention to what metrics can and should be implemented by each client to better assess the value of their public relations, media relations and social media campaigns. Like most things that are worthwhile, measurement requires time, energy and money. But everyone in the industry will be better served when we can demonstrate how public relations initiatives contribute to achieving client business goals. And although many will still question the ability to measure these efforts, the defined metrics nonetheless prove the industry is dedicated to defining strong practices and conscious of its capacity to impact business strategies.