The 2nd European Summit on Measurement recently issued the Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles. The group, consisting of five public relations professional associations, set forth seven principles that should lay important groundwork for the public relations profession’s measurement processes:

1. Goal-setting and measurement are fundamental aspects of any public relations program. Goals should be quantitative and measurement should be holistic, incorporating changes in awareness among key stakeholders, comprehension, attitude, and behavior as applicable, along with the program’s effect on business result.

2. Measuring the effect on outcomes is preferred to measuring outputs. Outcomes include shifts in awareness, comprehension, attitude and behavior. Standard best practices in survey research should be applied.

3. The effect on business results can and should be measured where possible.

4. Media measurement requires quantity and quality. Overall clip counts and general impressions are usually meaningless. Instead, measure impressions among the stakeholders or audience and quality of media coverage (tone, credibility, relevance of the medium to the audience).

5. Advertising value equivalents (AVEs) do not measure the value of public relations and do not inform future activity; they measure the cost of media space and are rejected as a concept to value public relations. Multipliers intended to reflect a greater media cost for earned versus paid media should never be applied unless proven to exist in the specific case.

6. Social media can and should be measured. Media content analysis should be supplemented by Web and search analytics, sales and CRM data, survey data and other methods. Evaluating quality and quantity is critical, just as it is with conventional media. Measurement must focus on “conversation” and “communities,” not just “coverage”

7. Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement. Specify the source of the content and the criteria used for collection, as well as the analysis methodology (human or automated, tone scale, content analysis parameters, etc.) Surveys should specify the methodology, questions and statistical methods used.

Steve Friedman