7 Ways the Barcelona Principles Have Evolved Over Time

Home Barcelona Principles 7 Ways the Barcelona Principles Have Evolved Over Time

The Barcelona Principles provide a best-practice guideline to measure how well PR efforts are working.

PR PrinciplesThey help connect PR to business results like sales and site rankings consistently and repeatably.

In other words, these public relations principles help 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 key for demonstrating value.

However, it’s often costly or impractical to find or define these metrics – that’s where a list like the Barcelona Principles help define priorities and point towards an industry standard.

The original Barcelona Principles can be boiled down into a seven-point list:

  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 PR principles were voted into existence by hundreds of PR professionals from around the world and are still helpful.

However, since they were first created in 2010, the way business as a whole works has changed significantly. Communications are more fundamental to organizations of all types, and the force and landscape of the online Internet ecosystem has shifted dramatically.

While many of the principles sound largely similar to the first list, the revision emphasizes how the principles apply to an increasingly digital age. It also leaves more room for different types of organizations, like government and nonprofit organizations.

Here’s a breakdown of the revised principles and what’s new:

1. Goal Setting and Measurement are Fundamental to Communication and Public Relations

Goal setting is also the first principle of the original list, but the revision makes the wording even stronger – PR should always be driven by concrete goal setting. This may sound obvious, but many brands still do not link daily efforts to longer term planning and expectations.

2. Measuring Communication Outcomes is Recommended Versus Only Measuring Outputs

It’s often much easier to put a number on effort than it is on results, but that doesn’t truly give a good picture of how well a campaign is working to achieve its goals. This revision puts increased emphasis on the need to look for qualitative and subjective measurements of success in addition to measuring what you are doing.

3. The Effect on Organizational Performance Can and Should Be Measured Where Possible

This principle emphasizes the impact PR can have not only on specific business results, but also on the performance of your company or organization as a whole. The revision also emphasizes the importance of PR for the entire identity of an organization in both private and public sectors.

4. Measurement and Evaluation Require Both Qualitative and Quantitative Methods

When designing a method of testing outcomes, you’ll need to understand not only the numbers – mentions, shares, airtime, etc. – but also the emotion and story behind the results. Truly objective metrics require both numeric, quantitative measurements and qualitative analysis of feedback – such as through media monitoring.

5. AVEs are not the Value of Communications

PR Principle 5 relates to number 2: historically, PR professionals sometimes use advertising value equivalents (AVEs) or costs to estimate the impact of a given output. However, advertising and PR work in very different ways – there is a meaningful difference between interruptive ads and the more inbound, engaging focus of PR. This principle underscores the reality that today there are many better methods of measuring PR success than AVEs.

6. Social Media Can and Should be Measured Consistently with Other Media Channels

Since 2010, the online landscape has changed dramatically. Online platforms are increasingly pervasive and interlinked. Now, it’s easier to consistently measure engagement across multiple media channel types, including not only social media but also traditional channels.

7. Measurement and Evaluation Should be Transparent, Consistent and Valid

Any measurement loses its value if it is too complicated to understand, too vague, or too specific to the situation at hand. This principle provides some more specific information about how to design methods of performance evaluation that indicate actual success and can be repeated.

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. To learn more about PR metrics to know and measure, check out our previous blog post Your Complete Guide to Understanding PR Metrics.

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 covering of online channels. Get a free demonstration of our software, or contact us here for more information.

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