PR Measurement Continues to Evolve: Barcelona Principles 3.0

August 12, 2020By Tressa RobbinsBarcelona Principles, Marketing, Media Industry, Media Measurement, Media Monitoring, Media Outreach, Media Pitch, Media Relations, Social Media, Technology 8 Comments

The Barcelona Principles provide a best-practice guideline to measure how well PR efforts are working. They help connect PR to real business results and evaluate the success of reaching specific targeted goals. In other words, these public relations principles shift the focus from your output to the outcome – not what you’re doing, but the impact of your work.

As with any other industry, having a consistent method of measuring success is fundamental for demonstrating value, and the Barcelona Principles help establish priorities and point toward an industry standard.

The original Barcelona Principles were as follows:

  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 measurement requires quantity and quality
  5. AVEs are 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 voted into existence by hundreds of PR professionals from around the world, led by the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications (AMEC) and the Institute for Public Relations (IPR), and are still helpful.

Since they were first created in 2010, and subsequently updated in 2015 to version 2.0, the way businesses work, as a whole, has changed significantly. Communications are now fundamental to organizations of all types, and the force and landscape of the online ecosystem have dramatically shifted.

AMEC Barcelona Principles 3 Here’s a breakdown of the revised principles and what’s new:

  1. Setting goals is an absolute prerequisite to communications planning, measurement, and evaluation. The founding principle of SMART goals (specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound) as the communications planning foundation is now recognized as a prerequisite — advancing measurement and evaluation as a core component of the planning process, setting the stage for declaring target outcomes and how outcome progress will be calculated.
  2. Measurement and evaluation should identify outputs, outcomes, and potential impact. The updated principles extend measuring outcomes to consider the longer-term impact of the communications strategy.
  3. Outcomes and impact should be identified for stakeholders, society, and the organization. This update allows the model to be more inclusive of a broader range of organizations and communications roles, including non-profit-driven organizations.
  4. Communication measurement and evaluation should include both qualitative and quantitative analysis. The evolution of this principle to not just quantify but also understand how messages are being received, considered and construed.
  5. AVEs are not the value of communication. The message remains consistent and clear. Communications measurement and evaluation must use a more nuanced and multi-faceted approach to understand the impact of communications.
  6. Holistic communication measurement and evaluation includes all relevant online and offline channels. According to AMEC’s website, “the 2020 iteration reflects the game-changing shift in social communications’ capabilities, opportunities, and influence, such that all relevant online and offline channels should be measured and evaluated equally. The AMEC measurement framework promotes clarity across earned, owned, shared, and paid channels to ensure consistency in approach toward a common goal.”
  7. Communication measurement and evaluation are rooted in integrity and transparency to drive learning and insights. A thorough, consistent, and sustained measurement plan must be transparent and ethical. It’s especially important now as organizations comply with new privacy regulations, such as GDPR, and California and New York’s privacy rights acts. Measurement isn’t merely about tracking and data collection, but about learning and applying insight back into communications planning. Per AMEC, it recognizes the need to be transparent about the context and being cognizant “of any bias that may exist in the tools, methodologies and interpretations applied.”

While some of the principles sound similar to the old, the 2020 revision emphasizes how the principles apply to an increasingly digital age. It also allows for different types of organizations, like government communication, NGOs, and nonprofit organizations.

And, finally, like many others, you may be unsure of where to begin with all of this. We highly recommend the AMEC Maturity Mapper (aka M3). This will help you benchmark where you currently are in your measurement and evaluation process and help you plot your next steps.

Ultimately, PR professionals work to achieve their clients’ goals. Data-driven results can seem complicated to define, but the Barcelona Principles help define a framework through which to focus analyses on what’s important and create valid metrics for success.

How does your organization prioritize measurement? Do the updated principles match your current strategies? Let us know below.

Tools such as media monitoring provide both automated, software-based objective measurement, and the option for human-verified, qualitative coverage—both online and off. Get a free demonstration of our software, or contact us here for more information.


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