In September 2015, Barcelona Principles 2.0 was born. It replaced the original Barcelona Declaration of Principles, the first global standards for Public Relations measurement which was named after Barcelona State, Spain, where the principles were adopted at the 2nd European Summit for Measurement attended by more than 200 delegates from 33 countries.

The review was not done by a set of radicals who saw nothing good in the original one. It was the work of an International Work Group, and was prompted by delegates at AMEC’s International Summit in Stockholm, Sweden, representing the original partners involved in the first one such as International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC), International Communication Consultancy Organization (ICCO), Institute for Public Relations, (IPR), Public Relations and Communication Association (PRCA), Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and The Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management.

Barcelona Principles 2.0 deserves the attention of every PR professional who wants to overcome the constant pressure by clients and organization to prove the value of his work. Unfortunately, many are not even aware of it. This article presents the evolution from Barcelona principles to Barcelona Principles 2.0. The reasons for the reviews and the methodologies for applying the principles are as captured by David Rockland, Chair of Internal Working Group for the review of the original principles.

How The Seven Principles Have Evolved

During the launch of Barcelona Principles 2.0, David Rockland explained that the original principles were just a starting point and that it was necessary to continuously update the principles to reflect the realities of our industry and the way communication professionals work today. He also explained that the focus of the original principles was on “what not to do”; whereas, Barcelona Principles 2.0 provides guidance on what to do.


Why Implementation Is Easy

Barcelona Principles 2.0 offers clear guidelines and accepted methodologies for both qualitative and quantitative research approaches that will deliver the best result. It also suggests best practices for ensuring the reliability and replicability of quantitative methods as well as the trustworthiness of qualitative approaches.

Here are the principles and suggestions on how to implement them:

Principle 1: Goal setting and measurement are fundamental to communication and Public Relations.

What to do:

  • Conduct measurement and evaluation against defined goals and SMART.
  • Make goals quantitative or qualitative, but still identify who, what, how much, by when
  • Be holistic: traditional and social media; changes in awareness among key stakeholders, comprehension, attitude and behavior; and impacts on organizational results. Campaigns or ongoing are both relevant.
  • Be integrated and aligned across paid, earned, shared and owned channels where possible.

Principle 2: Measurement of communication outcomes is recommended against measuring only outputs.

What to do:

  • Tailor practices for measuring the effect on outcomes to the objectives of the communication program.
  • Consider both quantitative and qualitative methods
  • Apply standard best practices in target audience research.

Principle 3: The effect on organizational performance can, and should, be measured where possible.

What to do:

  • To measure results from communication for an organization, models that determine the effects of the quantity and quality of communication outputs on organizational metrics, while accounting for other variables, are a preferred choice.
  • Use models that determine the effects of the quantity and quality of communication outputs on organizational metrics ( e.g. Demand for models to evaluate the impact on target audiences, survey research).
  • Develop communication measures that can provide reliable input into integrated marketing and communication models, including through advanced econometrics and advanced survey analysis.

Principle 4: Measurement and evaluation require both qualitative and quantitative methods.

What to do:

  • Consider qualitative methods to better explain the quantitative (or to replace, in some cases)
  • Media measurement, whether in traditional or online channels, should account for:
  • Impression among the stakeholders or target audience
  • Quality of the media coverage including, but not limited to
    • Tone
    • Credibility and relevance message delivery
    • 3rd party or company spokesperson
    • Prominence as relevant to the medium.
  • Quality measures can be negative, positive or neutral.

Principle 5: AVEs are not the value of communication

What not to do:

  • Do not use advertising value Equivalent (AVEs)
  • Do not use multipliers for “Pass-along values” for earned versus paid media (unless proven to exist)

What To Do:

  • If you must make a comparison between the cost of space or time from earned versus paid media, use:
  • Negotiated advertising rates relevant to the client.
  • Quality of the coverage (See Principle 4), including negative results; and
  • Physical space or time of the coverage related to the portion of the coverage that is relevant.

Principle 6: Social media can, and should, be measured consistently with other media channels.

What to do:

  • Define clear goals and outcomes for social media
  • Include measurement methods such as:
  • Media content analysis
  • Web and search analytics
  • Sales and CRM data
  • Survey data
  • Evaluate the quality and quantity of social media (just like with conventional media)
  • Focus measurement on engagement, “conversation” and “communities”, not just “coverage” or vanity metrics such as “likes”.

Principle 7: Measurement and evaluation should be transparent, consistent and valid.

What to do:

  • Ensure integrity, honesty, openness and ethical practices
  • Use valid methods
  • Quantitative = reliable and replicable
  • Qualitative = trustworthy
  • Consider other relevant standards, like:
  • For media measurement
  • Sources of the content with criteria used for collection
  • Analysis methodology
  • For Primary Research
  • Methodology
  • Verbatim questions
  • Statistical Methodology
  • Recognize any potential biasing effects
  • In the research itself, or
  • Broader societal content

We are made not by the recollections of our past, but by the responsibility for our future, so says George Bernard Shaw. Embracing Barcelona principles 2.0 is the future of Public Relations. It offers a measurement and evaluations framework that helps us demonstrate the ROI and value of Public Relations to our clients and organizations and positions us in good lights for the future.