Are the Barcelona Principles the way forward?

Advertising Value Equivalents (AVE’s) are not the value of Public Relations. They are not the be all and end all. This is a statement made clear to everyone when discussing the Barcelona Principles. The aim is to create a set of sophisticated measurement and evaluation principles that will allow the profession to measure the impact PR has had on an organisation effectively. And I believe, this has been a long time coming!

Advertising Value Equivalent is, in basic terms, the price of what your editorial coverage would cost if it were advertising space or time. To me, this technique in itself has many flaws. Can the effectiveness of a PR campaign really be measured through the estimated cost of space occupied by all your editorial coverage? This cost doesn’t tell us if the campaign reached the target audience, how many people it did reach or what they thought about it. PR is meant to be about ‘two-way communication’ and just telling an organisation how much our campaign would have cost in terms of advertising doesn’t give them any indication of the success of the campaign in terms of communication.

These new principles aim to give the PR profession credibility and a way of effectively measuring how well a campaign has gone and to what point it has met its objectives. Since the way in which PR is performed is constantly changing, these principles need to be throughly examined and continually looked at to make sure they are measuring PR in the most effective and up-to-date way they possibly can. Currently, these are the headlines for the new Barcelona Principles:

  • Goal setting and measurement are important
  • Media measurement requires quantity and quality
  • AVEs are not the value of public relations
  • Social media can and should be measured
  • Measuring outcomes is preferred to measuring media results (outputs)
  • Organisational results and outcomes should be measured whenever possible
  • Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement.

Each of these principles will be explained in more detail in a future article on the CIPR website. I believe that these principles will give PR practitioners a concrete way of evaluating how successful their work has been and how it could be improved in the future. For example, the use of social media in PR can influence a huge number of people in everyday society. PR practitioners not only need to be at the fore front of this ever changing medium but they also need to be able to effectively tell organisations how many people have connected and responded to a campaign through the use of these social platforms. It’s no longer enough to say ‘we’ve set up a Facebook group and we now have 100 members’. Organisations need to know what these members have been saying and how they have responded to the campaign.

Philip Sheldrake (@Sheldrake) recently created a presentation titled ‘What’s the ROI on social media?’ which can be found on his website. This could be very useful for PR practitioners who are looking for ways to measure social media.


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