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Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Barcelona Declaration of Research Principles - Changing the standards for PR Measurement

Last month, at the 2nd European Summit on Measurement (organized by AMEC and the Institute for Public Relations) delegates adopted a set of standards and practices to guide the measurement and evaluation of public relations activities.

The Barcelona Declaration of Research Principles may be a drastic shift in the way some agencies measure PR efforts, taking into account overall business strategy, social media, and a big one ... debunking ad value equivalents (AVE) as a value of public relations.

There seven principles, as stated by AMEC ...
  1. Goal setting and measurement are fundamental aspects of any PR program.
  2. Media measurement requires quantity and quality - cuttings in themselves are not enough.
  3. Advertising Value Equivalents (AVE) do not measure the value of PR and do not inform future activity.
  4. Social media can and should be measured.
  5. Measuring outcomes is preferred to measuring media results.
  6. Business results can and should be measured where possible.
  7. Transparency and Replicability are paramount to sound measurement.
These standards have been discussed and set forth by thought-leaders in this industry, across the globe. It's important that we, as PR professionals, understand and support these principles to demonstrate not only a willingness to adhere to an industry standard of measurement, but to advance the discipline of PR, proving the ROI of the strategies and tactics that employ. Agreeing to these standards means making fundamental changes in practices.

For instance ...

No more clipbooks. Press clippings and AVE's do not measure PR.
This discussion has been going on for a long time, and if you're still using clipbooks to measure the value of your campaigns, you're probably not alone. You've heard terminology like, "The thud factor," "HITS," and "Eyeballs." I know some PR professionals are still relying on these metrics like a child clings to a special blanket. It's time to take this one seriously, folks. We know that this is not an accurate measurement of our work. Probably one of the biggest excuses I hear for this one is, "But, clients have come to expect this. That's what they want us to show." Really, now? Do you let your client write your press releases and dictate strategy, too? No. That's our job. We need to be the educators, here. It's like trying to measure a gallon of water with a yardstick. It just doesn't work. Continuing to force a metric that doesn't tell us anything about performance or future activity could very well be a nail in the coffin for the industry.

Use social media. And, measure it. Because you can.
Yup. 'Tis true. And, here's another reason we need to throw out the entire thought process behind AVE, number of placements, and impressions. The beauty of the web is that anything you put out there can be monitored and measured. But, you need to take the time to figure out what you are trying to accomplish, and what it is that will prove you did it. Pretty Facebook page with lots of "Likes" isn't good enough. ROI folks. ROI.

Integrate your strategy, your goals, and your metrics for success.
Almost daily, it seems I find myself having some sort of conversation about breaking down silos in the communications process. It's exhausting, but, I continue to have these conversations because I know that the success of any strategic communications effort depends on integration. PR is a function of business, right? In order to measure the success of a campaign, we need to look at goals and objectives for the overall business. The most effective PR strategies and metrics for success will consider these.

We've heard discussions over the past few years threatening the "Death of the PR industry." At the end of the day, doing business (or, staying in business) revolves around staying out of the red. Using metrics that prove the value of PR in terms that are relevant to business, quite possibly could be the saving grace.

These are just my initial reactions, and I'd love to hear yours. If you haven't already reviewed these principles, you need to check out: