THURSDAY 3 SEP 2015 3:34 PM


It’s been five years since an upstart group of public relations professionals sat down at the AMEC Summit in Barcelona to determine the foundation of best practice in the measurement and evaluation of PR. Now, in the midst of Measurement Month, AMEC has released the Barcelona Principles 2.0, an updated framework that sees the principles become more readable and more transparent.

“For the first time, in 2010, the measurement side of the PR industry set a metric saying ‘This is how you do it.’ It’s an initial way of thinking about public relations measurement,” David Rockland, partner at Ketchum and immediate past chairman of AMEC, said about the Barcelona Principles. Now, though, the changes are indicative of broader change within the industry. The new edition seeks “To make the Barcelona Principles more relevant to communications today,” Rockland adds.

The Barcelona Principles 2.0

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

2. Measuring Communication Outcomes is Recommended Versus Only Measuring Outputs

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

4. Measurement and Evaluation Require Both Qualitative and Quantitative Methods

5. AVEs are not the Value of Communications

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

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

Most of the concepts behind the principles are unchanged. Social media should still be measured. AVEs are still bad. What has changed is the language behind it which makes the principles valuable to communicators in practice. It’s a bit more accessible, but it also speaks about ‘communications’ rather than ‘public relations’ and emphasises the relationship between communications, reputation and business results. “The writing got a lot better in the last five years,” Rockland says. “Now [the principles] work in the language of English.”

This strategic shift is not occurring in AMEC and in the measurement community alone. PR agencies and practitioners in-house and agency-side have found themselves competing with digital, creative and advertising teams or agencies. Some, like Golin, have diversified and changed client-agency relations to better serve the needs of businesses. In-house budgets are tighter meaning communicators have to prove the efficacy of their work, making measurement all the more important. The increased interest in the measurement and evaluation of communications has spread beyond PR, too. Thus the principles have been made accommodating enough to incorporate the needs of anyone seeking a framework on measurement. For one, qualitative language has been incorporated into one of the principles, which originally dealt only with quantitative measurement. This means things like brand loyalty and reputation can be measured.

The challenge now remains to educate the industry about the principles themselves and about the value of measurement. “We’ve been given a second chance,” Jeremy Thompson, MD of Cision EMEA and AMEC chairman says. He and AMEC, through Measurement Month’s programme of events in 25 countries to begin with, and a broader education programme to follow are seeking to share the value of measurement and its relevance to the modern communicator. “I would love to educate everyone from the chief exec down,” he says. A lofty goal, but maybe one to be achieved before defining the Barcelona Principles 3.0.