Measurement of public relations has always been associated with uncertainty. Despite wide agreement that it is a key issue for the industry, there has never been a standardised approach to measurement across PR firms, with most adopting individual methods.
One common measure was Advertising Value Equivalents (AVEs). This method calculates the same value that would be attached to an advertisement occupying an editorial space, with some PR firms choosing to then add a multiplier to this initial calculation on the assumption that editorials are worth more, or noticed more, than advertising. This method has both its supporters and critics and has been a debated topic for many years.
PR professionals attending the annual European Summit on Measurement in Barcelona recently took on the challenge of revising PR measurement. Some 225 delegates from 30 countries came up with seven principles, which are now being referred to as the ‘Barcelona Principles’. The principles, as outlined below, are being globally recognised as a foundation of good PR measurement:
- importance of goal setting and measurement
- measuring the effect of outcomes is preferred to measuring outputs
- the effect on business results can and should be measured where possible
- media measurement requires quality as well as quantity
- AVEs are not a value of public relations
- social media can and should be measured
- transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement.
As with most measurement tools, these principles represent a starting point, with their use to be tailored to individual situations.
Since the principles were articulated, ensuing meetings have focused on client and practitioner education. It is generally agreed now that the principles represent a system that is cost-effective and that measures the important aspects of service delivery.
At Font, we recognise these principles as the new global standard. We appreciate that they promote a collaborative approach to measurement and also focus on continued improvement in communications performance. As professional communications consultants, we will be working on integrating these principles into daily practice to more easily quantify the results we seek to achieve for our clients.