Barcelona Principles 2.0: What’s Good For PR Measurement

 In Industry news

We were anxiously awaiting the update to the Barcelona Principles, which were established in 2010 and updated this week by the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) in London. PRWeek has a nice breakdown of BP version 2.0 and we have to say, we like the more proactive and positive language. As cited by David Rockland, Ketchum partner and past chair of AMEC, who chaired the group that developed the ‘Barcelona Principles 2.0’: “the original set of principles focused more on ‘what not to do’, while the updated ones provide more guidance on ‘what to do’.”

A universal set of standards still seem like a long way off according to our industry conversations, but hopefully with the recently growing popularity of PR measurement and analytics technologies, the Barcelona Principles will begin to see wider adoption. They are the closest we’ve come to industry standards, and standards bring credibility. If brands begin to demand measurement based on these principles, PR agencies will have to follow suit. Seems like there’s some competitive advantage for agencies to be innovative here, and push better measurement proactively to win business over agencies who don’t provide analytical reporting.

What we really like in Barcelona Principles 2.0:

  • Changes to Principle #2: Changes from ‘Measuring the effect on outcomes is preferred to measuring outputs’ to ‘Measuring communication outcomes is recommended versus only measuring outputs’. Agencies have to measure output - sometimes it’s the only way to help clients understand what is happening behind the scenes to get results. Results can take time, so outputs matter to assure brands paying an agency retainer that activity is taking place. As we said in this post, PR firms get paid for their time and they therefore feel compelled to report on the time it took them to accomplish something. This is why traditionally, measurement reports (or status reports) outline how many journalists they spoke with or awards submissions they drafted. And that’s okay… as long as their measurement reports also cover what the outcome of such efforts were. What happened as a result of all that writing and pitching?
  • Changes to Principle #5:  From ‘AVEs are not the value of public relations’ to ‘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.” So we ask - is your PR analytics provider still measuring this outdated and irrelevant value? If so, they don’t get it.
  • The change overall to distinguish between measurement and evaluation, separating the role of measurement from the role of evaluation as the actual process of using data to make a judgement on value and effectiveness. Yes! This is why we constantly say PR measurement and PR analytics. Measurement is one thing, analysis quite another. You can measure outputs and outcomes, but outcomes should also be analyzed regarding how they created business impact. What was the output investment vs outcome ROI? Even using our PR tech platform, we encourage and help train customers on how to draw conclusions, correlate data and develop stronger strategies when they repeat what’s working and pivot from what isn’t.

We highly recommend that you take a look at the full PRWeek article and familiarize your team with the Principles. Solid measurement continues to be a pain point and bravo to AMEC for stepping up to try and establish industry standards that will help PR to overcome this challenge in a credible and reliable manner.



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