PR News Measurement Survey: Awareness of Barcelona Principles Trending Upward Slowly

Is the glass half empty or half full? That’s the dilemma raised by the latest PR News survey about measurement practices. On the upside, more PR pros appear to be relying on measurement than previously. The flip side is the pace toward a more analytical mindset is incremental.

Released at the PR News Measurement Conference in Washington, D.C., last week, 42% of those responding said they’d heard of the Barcelona Principles. It was the highest percentage answering that question in the affirmative since PR News began asking this question. Last November 34% told PR News they knew of the Principles; 32% said so in an April 2014 poll. The full survey results can be seen on page 3; 190 members of the PR News community responded to it earlier this month.

Another note in favor of the Principles: Nearly half (49%) of those surveyed said they “always” identify the “desired organizational outcomes” for their communications initiatives, “as opposed to PR goals like placements or impressions.” 44% said they “sometimes” do. The first of the Principles emphasizes goal setting. It also underlines the need for goals to be “as quantitative as possible.”

On the downside, just 19% of the 42% who’d heard of the Principles said they’d integrated them into their communications metrics strategy; 58% said they’d not heard of the Principles, which were adopted in 2010 during a meeting of the International Association of Measurement and Evaluation of Communication(AMEC) in Barcelona. The Principles were intended to ground PR in analytics and data. A 2.0 version was adopted last year ( PRN, September 21, 2015).

For Katie Paine, publisher and CEO of Paine Publishing, the survey was “encouraging…I see more and more [PR pros] measuring,” she says. “That 13% that said they don’t have KPIs scares the heck out of me, though.” Most CEOs and CCOs “still think you can’t measure PR and tie it to business success…the smarter ones know you can.”

A PR NewsMeasurement Hall of Famer, Paine says, “In the end, it’s not important if it’s the Barcelona Principles [encouraging PR pros to measure]…the goal is to get more people to measure better.” This means “providing actionable metrics and insights as opposed to random metrics, such as AVEs (ad value equivalency), to justify your existence.” Asked what brands can do now to measure better, she says, “Stop measuring to justify, measure to improve and present metrics that tell a story about what worked—in terms of meeting goals and objectives—and what didn’t and how you’ll improve next time.”

The results surprised Eileen Sheil, executive director, corporate communications, the Cleveland Clinic. “I thought we’d be further along on measurement,” she says. Inducted into the PR News Measurement Hall of Fame last week, Sheil feels “a lot of PR people are not exposed to measuring…unless they actively seek it out.”

BurrellesLuce, Business Wire, LexisNexis, Paine Publishing and TrendKite sponsored the survey.

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