Leading PR organizations just unveiled updated Barcelona Principles, dubbed Barcelona Principles 2.0, before a packed audience of PR and media intelligence professionals in London.

The revised principles were developed by the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) in conjunction with ICCO, Institute for Public Relations, PRCA, PRSA and The Global Alliance. This is the first update to the principles, the first global standard of public relations measurement, since they were introduced five years ago. The organizations moved to update the principles after delegates at AMEC’s International Summit in Stockholm called for the standards to be reviewed two months ago.

AMEC is urging PR firms, PR associations, AMEC members and academics to support the initiative and endorse the new principles

“The original set of principles was never intended to be a final or complete solution, but simply a place for us to start,” said David Rockland, Ketchum Partner and Immediate Past Chairman of AMEC. “What AMEC and our partners have now done is refresh the Barcelona Principles to reflect the significant changes we have seen in the media landscape and the emergence of integrated communications.”

Rockland described the initial principals focused more on “what not to do,” while the updated version provides more guidance on “what to do.”

Main Points of the Principles

Key points of the revised Barcelona principles are:

  • Widening the scope beyond PR measurement, changing the language to make it clear that the principles are relevant and applicable to organizations, governments, companies and brands globally.
  • Reinforcing the importance of integration, recognizing the importance of integrated communications and that measurement must be integrated across geographies, methods (quantitative and qualitative), and channels (including paid, earned, owned and shared media).
  • Making a distinction between measurement and evaluation, separating the role of measurement from the role of evaluation as the actual process of using data to make a judgement on value and effectiveness.
  • Including a new focus on qualitative assessment, recognizing the important part that qualitative information plays in measurement and evaluation, adding color and context that helps professionals understand “the why” behind the outcomes.
  • Reminding professionals of the need for all measurement and evaluation to be transparent, consistent and valid, giving more advice on approaches and accepted methodologies.

Old vs. New Barcelona Principles

Rockland outlined how the seven basic principals have changed. Under the original version, the seven principals were:

  1. Importance of goal setting and measurement.
  2. Measuring the effect on outcomes is preferred to measuring outputs.
  3. The effect on business results can and should be measured where possible.
  4. Media measurement requires quantity and quality.
  5. AVEs are not the value of public relations.
  6. Social media can and should be measured
  7. Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement.

Under the 2.0 version, the seven principles are:

  1. Goal setting and measurement are fundamental to communication and public relations.
  2. Measuring communication outcomes is recommended versus only measuring outputs.
  3. The effect on organizational performance can and should be measured where possible.
  4. Measurement and evaluation require both qualitative and quantitative methods.
  5. AVEs are not the value of communication.
  6. Social media can and should be measured consistently with other media channels.
  7. Measurement and evaluation should be transparent, consistent and valid.

Bottom Line: The updated Barcelona Principles, a global standard for PR measurement, further refine recommended PR measurement practices, robustly emphasize the importance of measurement, and establish a distinction between measurement and evaluation. By introducing the revised standards, public organizations are keeping up with the times and advocating the adoption of more sophisticated measurement practices.