Three years after the Barcelona Principles were crafted by five major PR industry associations (in Barcelona, just so you know), communications professionals are making some progress toward implementing measurement strategies based on those seven principles, according to a recent study conducted by media measurement company CARMA and PR News.
Conceived in 2010, the seven principles have played a major role toward developing standards and professionalizing how communications professionals approach PR measurement. The principles include:
1. Importance of Goal Setting and Measurement
2. Media Measurement Requires Quantity and Quality
3. AVEs Are Not the Value of Public Relations
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
At the outset, the Principles sparked much debate among PR pros—some who felt that they were too general, and some who believed the goals were too lofty. But they were an outline to follow in formulating a measurement strategy—something PR pros had been lacking for years.
Putting these Principles into play is no small task for PR professionals, many of whom have just scratched the surface when it comes to PR measurement. So just how far have they come in implementing these Principles?
To find out, in March CARMA and PR News issued a survey with questions linked to the Barcelona Principles. The survey garnered 316 responses from PR professionals involved with measuring traditional media and social media in their organizations.
By PR industry type, 52% work in-house at corporations (18% at companies with revenue of $100 million-plus); 22% hail from government and nonprofit sectors while 16% work at PR agencies and 10% have their own shops.
The results of the study indicate that progress on the PR measurement is being made, says Chris Scully, VP of research at CARMA. “These results do comport with anecdotal evidence from clients.”
Here are the specific findings of the survey, as related to certain Principles.
Principle 1—Importance of Goal Setting and Measurement:
While it’s notable that 83% of PR pros want to demonstrate the value of their PR activities and 75% want to improve their programs (question 1), less than half measure for tone or key messages—which we’ll explore later. “Drilling deeper would give them the insight needed improve their PR efforts,” says Angela Jeffrey, senior counsel to CARMA and president of MeasurementMatch.
Although 84% specified the “what” they will accomplish, only 54% specified “when;” 44% specified for “whom;” and only “44%” specified “how much” (question 2). This means that, at best, only 40% specifed all four elements that are part of the Barcelona Principles.
1. What is the primary reason you measure your PR and/or social media results? (Choose all that apply)
Barely half of the respondents said they measure tone (52%) and less than half (48%) measure key messages; barely a quarter (25%) limit impressions to those which are “targeted”—which are the only impressions that matter. “Clip counts are important within stories to track, but to do that without knowing if coverage is favorable or unfavorable is missing a big part of the picture,” Scully says. Another shocker: Barely a quarter (24%) measure competitive share, which has been encouraged by industry measurement leaders for at least a decade.
The use of Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE)metrics, which has long been derided by measurement experts, stands at 27%.
3. Which of the following metrics/measures does your organization typically use for traditional media measurement? (Choose all that apply)
Less than half of the respondents (47%) claim they use both quantitative and qualitative measures for social media (question 4), which shows that too many PR pros continue to rely on the quantitative. “This is understandable, given the sheer volume of social,” Jeffrey says. Interestingly, only 18% said they use the automated influence scores via Klout and Kred that have gotten so much press lately.
4. Which of the following metrics does your organization typically use for social media measurement? (Choose all that apply)
Overall, there is reason for optimism, says Jackie Mathews, research strategist for General Motors Communications. “It looks like there is progress on most of the Principles, in that people are looking at measurements beyond just clip counts or impression numbers,” Matthews says. PRN
5. Has your organization used any of the following tools to measure the effect of communications on organizational outcomes, such as shifts in awareness, comprehension, attitude and behavior? (Such shifts could be related to purchases, donations, brand equity, corporate reputation, employee engagement, public policy investment decisions and other shifts in audiences.) Choose all that apply.
Learn more about measurement at the PR Measurement Conference, to be held May 15 in Washington, D.C. (prnewsonline.com/prmeasurementconference2013).
Chris Scully, firstname.lastname@example.org; Angela Jeffrey, email@example.com; Jackie Matthews, firstname.lastname@example.org.