The Barcelona Declaration Measurement Principles were agreed by more than 200 PR professional and academician in the second European Measurement Summit in 2010 (AMEC, 2012a). This is the first global consensus on PR measurement standards and consists of seven principles of measurement. The principals favors measurement of outcomes instead of measuring media outlets, and recommends measuring PR effects on business results, but rejects advertising value equivalents (AVE) as method for measuring the value of PR activities (Watson, 2013). The seven principals are as below:
- Importance of goal setting and measurement
- Measuring the effect on outcomes is preferred to measuring outputs.
- The effect on business results can and should be measured where possible.
- Media measurement requires quantity and quality.
- AVEs are not the value of public relations.
- Social media can and should be measured.
- Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement
The first principal highlights the fact the importance of goal setting and measurement for any public relations program. Goals should be quantitative to enable the organization measure it precisely and address who, what, when and how much the PR program is intended to affect (AMEC, 2012b). Measurement should bring comprehensive metrics together including, but not limited to changes in attitude and awareness, behavior change among stakeholders and level of advocacy while measuring both traditional and social media.
The second principal recommends measuring the result of PR activities on stakeholders’ perception of the organization. Measuring change in awareness, attitude, and behavior of target public in purchase decision, corporate reputation, employee engagement, public policy decisions is articulated in this principal (Watson & Noble, 2014). PR outcome metrics is derived based on the business objectives of the organization.
Methods that determine the quantity and quality of PR outputs upon sales and other business metrics are preferred for measuring business results in the third principal (Watson & Noble, 2014). Use of market mix models that evaluate the effects of PR on customer marketing is emphasized in this principal. It calls the practitioners to provide reliable inputs into marketing mix models to isolate other marketing methods impact such as advertising and promotions (AMEC, 2012b).
In term of measurement of quantity of media, the fourth principals explains that instead of measuring media in general and counting clips and total impressions that may be irrelevant and elusive, impressions should be measured among the target or desired audiences in either online and traditional media (Watson & Noble, 2014). In term of measurement of quality of media, metrics such as tone, credibility and relevance of the medium to stakeholders or audiences, message delivery, inclusion of third-party comment and prominence that is relevant to the medium should be measured.
Advertising value equivalents (AVEs), as articulated in the fifth principal, do not measure the value of PR. AVE is only the cost of purchasing media space and does not make any relations to the outcomes of PR and clearly, it estimates an inaccurate value for PR. While PR affects the organization’s brand, reputation, and image, evaluation metrics should be designed in a way to measure future achievement of PR activities, therefore a simple AVE metrics cannot predict these future values (Ketchum Global Research & Analytics, 2011). AMEC outlines valid metrics framework to replace AVE (CIPR, 2011).
Social media measurement, says the sixth principle, is a discipline, and not a tool. In other words, all prior principals should be applied to the social media measurement. Setting goals, determining outcome metrics, measuring quality and quantity of media and measuring reach and influence should be integrated with social media measurement. In social media measurement, instead of measuring coverage, rate of conversation and conversion among users and communities should be measured. Online analytic tools can provide content analysis reports, track online sales routes and analyze customer relationship data which enables social media expert to measure the effectiveness of PR activities (Watson & Noble, 2014).
Finally, the seventh principal reminds that PR measurement process should be transparent and replicable. There is a strong emphasis on transparency of methods so that clients and employers know where the data has come from and how it has been analyzed. The principle recommends that media measurement should state the sources of the content and the criteria used for collection, along with the analysis methodology. The methodology used in surveys should be clearly stated along with sample size, margin of error, and whether they are probability or nonprobability design. All questions and the statistical methodology should be disclosed (Watson & Noble, 2014).
After the Barcelona summit, a task force created a measurement framework based on the principals. The valid metrics framework takes a form of a matrix that could be applied to different campaigns. The matrix’s rows indicate how PR works. It includes three steps: (a) PR activity: metrics indicating PR outputs such as producing and disseminating messages; (b) Intermediary Effect: metrics reflecting the third party dissemination of the messages to the target audience; and (c) Target Audience Effect: metrics showing effects of the message on target audiences’ actions, behavior and perception. The columns, comprising awareness, knowledge, consideration, preference, and action, exhibits customers’ perceptions till business results achieved. Table C2 illustrates a valid metric sample for a brand marketing campaign (AMEC, 2012b).