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What are the Barcelona Principles of PR Measurement and Why Should I Care?

By Jason Mudd

Measuring your PR and communication campaigns the right way proves its value


The Barcelona Principles.The Barcelona Principles provide best-practice guidelines to measure how well public relations and corporate communication efforts are working. PR isn't sales, yet measuring it correctly helps connect PR to real business results like sales pipeline activity, social media conversions, market share of voice, site traffic, and site rankings. 


No marketing plan is complete without PR. An Entrepreneur article claimed “marketing without PR is like a dream without a goal.” And no marketing and PR plan will be able to prove value if not measured.



What are the Barcelona Principles?
The Barcelona Principles is a list of seven voluntary guidelines established by the global PR industry to measure the efficiency of PR campaigns. It was the first overarching framework for effective public relations and communications measurement. The principles serve as a guide for practitioners to incorporate the ever-expanding media landscape into a transparent, reliable, and consistent framework. 


Why are they called The Barcelona Principles?
PR industry leaders from 33 countries met in Barcelona, Spain in 2010 for a summit convened by the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC). There, they identified and agreed on the need for outcome-based, instead of output-based, measurement of PR campaigns. The principles were most recently updated in July 2020 to reflect how standard practices in 2010 – and even 2015 – may now be outdated. The Barcelona Principles 3.0 has widened its relevance to a broader, more diverse range of organizations. 


Large version of the Barcelona Principles.


As a business leader, why should I care?
Public relations activities have an impact on company reputation, revenue, and even recruiting. However, you don't know what that impact is, qualitatively and quantitatively, without research and measurement. Having a consistent method of measuring successes (and failures) is critical to demonstrate both value and impact.

It's crucial to look at the numbers before, during, and after a campaign has occurred to get a better idea of how your customers and other stakeholders perceived it.


The late Grace Murray Hopper, U.S. Navy rear admiral and American computer scientist, said, “one accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions.” 


Barcelona Principles 3.0 explained: 
Communication measurement is continuously evolving, including social and digital metrics. With this latest refresh, the principles “reflect a more holistic approach that standardizes measurement across all channels with an eye toward allowing choice in where to invest in communication to drive optimal organizational performance toward one’s mission,” according to the unveiling presentation at the AMEC Global Summit on July 10, 2020.

The updated principles state: 

  1. Setting measurable goals is an absolute prerequisite to communication planning, measurement, and evaluation. 

  2. Measurement and evaluation should identify outputs, outcomes, and potential impact.

  3. Outcomes and impact should be identified for stakeholders, society, and the organization.

  4. Communication measurement and evaluation should include both qualitative and quantitative analysis.

  5. AVEs are not the value of communication.

  6. Holistic communication measurement and evaluation includes all relevant online and offline channels.

  7. Communication measurement and evaluation are rooted in integrity and transparency to drive learning and insights. 

To sum it up, “measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement,” said Dr. H. James Harrington, business improvement author. “If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.” 


PR agencies who value measurement are likely to adopt the Barcelona Principles. To learn more about measuring PR the right way, download “Measurement Matters.”


See also Yes, PR is Measurable. How to Measure and Report Public Relations and Strategic Corporate Communications


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axia-jason-mudd-portraitClients love Jason’s passion, candor, and commitment as well as the team he has formed at Axia Public Relations. He's advised some of America’s most admired brands, including American Airlines, Dave & Buster’s, Hilton, HP, Pizza Hut, and Verizon. He is an Emmy Award-winning, accredited public relations practitioner, speaker, author, and entrepreneur and earned his certification in inbound marketing. He founded the PR firm in July 2002. Learn more about Jason.


Topics: public relations, measurement

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