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PR evaluation made simple?

11 September, 2015 Reading: 2:38 mins

Anyone working in PR over the age of 30 will remember a time when part of every account executive’s job involved measuring coverage with a ruler. A multiplier was then used to ‘weigh up’ the editorial to take into account the fact that third party endorsement provided by a journalist was worth more than an advert. This rather dubious calculation was subsequently used to work out the ROI on any communications campaign.

PR evaluation made simple?

How evaluation and measurement has moved on, mainly because we’re reviewing the output of PR campaigns across multiple media, both online and offline and because PR is NOT advertising. Justine Smith, our MD of KISS PR gives her view on the launch last week of the rather blandly named Barcelona Principles 2.0.

The Barcelona Principles refers to the Barcelona Declaration of Research Principles, a set of seven voluntary guidelines established by 33 practitioners from PR firms, companies, organisations, government teams and the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC).

The original goal of the principles was to introduce standard guidelines to measure the effectiveness of communications campaigns. Five years on and the principles have been updated with new versions of the original seven.

With a focus on the need for outcome, instead of output, based measurement of PR campaigns, the new Principles also put more emphasis on the importance of integration – something we feel very strongly about here at KISS. There is also a call for the exclusion of AVE (Advertising Value Equivalent) metrics, a focus on more qualitative measurement and importantly, recognising the value of social media.

These are a welcomed update, tying together an increasingly broad media landscape and taking into consideration the changes across the communications industry over the last five years. In all PR strategy, it is vital that we are able to transparently measure and evaluate our work for our clients and with these updated principles it means we can prove the value of our work and the ROI of communication.

However the principles can sometimes be limiting for clients on more modest budgets. Measuring qualitative and quantitate data for instance has a cost implication and can be time consuming, requiring either more of an agency’s time (and more cost to the client) or additional cost to pay for external measurement services.

Getting clients to share organisational performance in order to evaluate outcomes can also be challenging but is essential if PR agencies are to provide effective ROI for PR campaigns.

If you’re interested in the measurement guidelines and practices set out by the Barcelona Principles 2.0, we have included below:

  • Goal setting and measurement are fundamental to communication and public relations
  • Measuring communication outcomes is recommended versus only measuring outputs
  • The effect on organisational performance can and should be measured where possible
  • Measurement and evaluation require both qualitative and quantitative methods
  • AVE’s are not the value of communication
  • Social media can and should be measured consistently with other media channels
  • Measurement and evaluation should be transparent, consistent and valid

Read more here about The Barcelona Principles

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