by Katie Delahaye Paine
Editor's note: Welcome to our Barcelona Summit coverage:
For an overview of the Summit, and links to other articles, blogs and photos, see Everything You Need to Know about the Barcelona Summit.
- For a practical guide to improving your public relations and social media measurement based on the Barcelona principles, see The Barcelona Principles Checklist.
- For a discussion of the next steps after Barcelona, read Barcelona Was a Great First Step: Here Are 5 More Issues to Tackle.
At the recent Barcelona Summit, AMEC, IPR and CIPR presented seven basic principles of measurement. 200 or so delegates voted to approve them:
- Goal setting and measurement are fundamental aspects of any PR programmes.
- Media measurement requires quantity and quality – cuttings in themselves are not enough.
- Advertising Value Equivalents (AVEs) do not measure the value of PR and do not inform future activity.
- Social media can and should be measured.
- Measuring outcomes is preferred to measuring media results.
- Business results can and should be measured where possible.
- Transparency and Replicability are paramount to sound measurement.
So what? What does this have to do with me?
It’s a valid question. Many of these principles were probably, for readers of The Measurement Standard, clearly in the “duh!” category. One of my Twitter followers said “Great, it takes that much effort to do something we all learned at university.” He has a point, (although I for one, never studied PR research in college – it wasn’t even offered).
These principles are not a call to arms, and will hardly start a revolution, but they do create a benchmark. They tell the world that if you are a PR professional trying to measure results, this is where you have to start.
AVEs: Dead Again
Without a doubt the most controversial principle -- and the one that should start at least a few skirmishes if not a revolution -- is #3. It drives a wooden stake into the undead heart of Advertising Value Equivalency. And the fact that it passed at all (the vote was by no means unanimous, see the voting tallies here) is a sign of how far we’ve come in just a year. Remember that last June at the Berlin AMEC conference the vast majority of the crowd cheerfully raised its hands when asked if they provided AVEs for their clients. (Read what I had to say about that here and especially here.) This year, most of the same providers are no doubt still offering what I refer to as “the cocaine” of our industry. But at least they admit that it is a flawed metric and want to see it killed off. (Here is a flamboyant reason to say goodbye to AVEs: "General Sentiment Tars BP With AVE Scare-Wash.")
Outcomes over Outputs
The other significant element to the principles is that they make very clear that PR measurement is not just about counting clips. The fact that they clearly state that measuring outcomes is preferred over outputs is significant, because it may mean the beginning of some very significant changes for the people who attended, many of whom make a living selling clips. Not that people will ever stop wanting to know what the media in all its forms says about them, but it means that, increasingly, media analysis will be integrated with web analytics, CRM and Marketing Mix Modeling in order to quantify the value of a public relations effort.
Of Course We Can Measure Social Media
I was also happy to notice that the principles reiterate my assertion that “YES WE CAN Measure Social Media.” The silly notion that just because a conversation happens in a space that's different from what we’re used to makes it somehow “unmeasurable” has always been one of the more ridiculous myths of our time. Since the percentage of coverage appearing in “traditional” media (as opposed to online and social) has dropped from 95% to about 9% in the last three years, we need to change how we define media.
So here are five things you should do with these principles:
- Read and think about them. Read the coverage on the IPR website and join the discussion. You can get full copies of what was passed in Barcelona at the AMEC or IPR websites. To comment on the Principles, write to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you are a member of an organization not represented in Barcelona, contact your organization’s leadership and get them to sign on to the principles – conspicuously absent were IABC, SNCR, IPRA, AEJMC. If you are a member, we need you on board.
- Stop using AVEs. Explain to your AVE addicted clients and bosses that the all the major industry leaders have pledged to stop using them. So should you.
- Don’t work with vendors who don’t adhere to these principles.
- Spread the word amongst your colleagues about The Barcelona Principles and urge them to endorse them.
Continue the Discussion
Most importantly, these principles aren’t the end of this discussion. As someone said in Barcelona, "We haven’t raised the bar, we’ve raised the floor." (If anyone reading this knows who the person is who said this, please tell Katie so we can properly credit them.) The principles are a place to start, a platform from which we can have more discussions about the right ways and the wrong ways to measure PR.