The Barcelona Principles founded by AMEC at the 2010 conference.

The Barcelona Principles founded by AMEC at the 2010 conference.

Whilst I was studying for my PR certificate last fall, we were required to put together a hypothetical PR plan for the (deep breath now!) international association for the measurement and evaluation of communication’s (AMEC – phew!) fictional conference which was designed to raise awareness of the Barcelona Principles. I felt that now would be a good time to spill the insights I gleamed from this assignment…

What are they?

Firstly what are the Barcelona Principles? They are not the rules to a Spanish drinking game (disappointingly) or the latest Mediterranean fashion trends; they are actually a set of guidelines designed by chaps like the CIPR, PRSA and ICCO at AMEC Barcelona Conference in 2010, which encourage PROs to produce more vigorous and quantifiable methods to evaluate and measure communication, something especially important in this  social media age.

If Moses was a PR man, he'd bring the Barcelona Principles down from the Mount.

If Moses was a PR man, he’d bring the Barcelona Principles down from the Mount.

The Principles

If Moses had been a PR man, this is what the big cheese would have said to him on Mount Sinai about communication measurement:

  • 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.

What does this mean for PR?

Well, one thing is for sure, these principles definitely put the last nail in the AVE coffin; advertising value equivalent, AMEC argues, is an inaccurate and old-fashioned mode of evaluating PR activities, (think more old-school mad men) and it is no longer enough to attribute advertising value to how many column inches you secured.  We were taught that PR campaigns must have clearly defined goals which can be measured from the outset – whether that be how many key messages were included in an article or how many followers commented on a blog post.

Similarly, there has been a clear shift to measuring the outcomes of a campaign not simply the results; how many people changed their behaviour patterns  is a better method for evaluating the success of a campaign over how many followers you achieved or how many pieces of coverage you secured.  Lastly, adopting the same approach to measuring PR activities is crucial for creating robust and credible evaluation.

So there you have it –a summary of what makes good measurement!