On The Record Online

Image by DigitalBobIt's been a hotly debated topic in the PR industry for decades.  How do you measure the effectiveness of a PR campaign?  Do you look at outputs like press releases and media coverage or outcomes like buyer behavior and attitude?  And if you do evaluate outputs, what are the best practices for determining the value of PR?  Over the past five years, I've asked that question to Katie PaineMark WeinerLarry Gerbrandt, Michael Lavery, Pete Blackshaw and Rick Klau and got many different answers. 

In June 2010, the PR industry got together to try and unify the standards by which the trade measures the value of a public relations initiative.  As a result, the widespread practice of using advertising value equivalency to try and determine the value of PR was denounced, and the Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles, endorsed by public relations agencies from 33 countries, were released to offer PR practitioners more substantial reasoning for gauging value.

"The value of PR is not equal to the cost of advertising" says David Rockland, partner at Ketchum, who also serves as chair of the Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) and who is the featured guest in this episode of On the Record...Online. According to the Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles, if clients insist on incorporating advertising value into their measurement of public relations, that value should not be called the value of the public relations campaign and should be based on wholesale advertising rates and adjusted for quality.

Finally, the principles recognize the use of multipliers as fundamentally flawed in determining the value of PR.  Collectively, the public relations industry voted to discard the practice of multiplying a standard retail advertising rate by a multiplier of 2.5 (pass-along rate) as a way of measuring the value of public relations.  Instead, the principles says public relations practitioners should analyze the connection between PR placements and business results by measuring audience outcomes like changes in purchase behavior, awareness and attitude.

While the principles put the importance of social media firmly on the measurement landscape by suggesting some of the factors that should be evaluated, they are yet to recommend specifically how to measure for this developing category.
The principles were voted on and declared at a conference organized by the (AMEC) and the Institute for Public Relations with the support of PRSA, The Global Alliance, IPR Measurement Commission and ICCO.
01:05 --How The Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles were created, the first globally accepted and endorsed attempt to standardize the measures of effective public relations campaigns.
02:35 -- For the first time, the global public relation industry rejected using media coverage as a method of determining the value of a PR campaign.
04:17 -- A discussion of the seven measurement principles adopted in Barcelona.
1. Goal setting and measurement are fundamental aspects of any PR programmes.
2. Media measurement requires quantity and quality – cuttings in themselves are not enough. 
3. Advertising Value Equivalents (AVEs) do not measure the value of PR and do not inform future activity.
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.
07:34 -- We the delegates rejected AVEs, and how disposing of them as a measure of PR effectiveness is in the best interest of the public relations industry.
09:17 -- Recommended alternatives to advertising value equivalency for valuing public relations campaigns.
12:01 -- How the Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles address social media.
13:37 -- The principle that it should be transparent how measurement results are calculated.  Currently,  Rockland says, some PR service providers hide behind "black box calculation" and that needs to stop.  Calculations should be logical and replicable.
15:26 -- Industry feedback to date has been supportive of the principles, and in some cases, criticizes them for not going far enough, but if you're objective is to declare globally acceptable principles, you've got to start somewhere.
16:01 -- Rather than risk the possibility of the principles not being adopted my majority of the delegates, Rockland chose not to abolish advertising value equivalencies altogether, but rather, establish caveats by which they can be more accurately recognized.
17:23 -- Next steps for adopting and applying these measurement principles.
19:35 -- Why PR practitioners can't afford not to adopt and apply these measurement principles to the public relations efforts.
 @EricSchwartzman provides online communication trainingstrategy and social media governance to public relations, public affairs, corporate communications and marketing specialists. He has extensive experience integrating emerging information technologies into organizational communications programs through public speaking, hands-on training seminars, consulting and the development of corporate policies on social media usage.  His clients have included Boeing, BYU, City National Bank, Environmental Defense Fund, Government of Singapore, Johnson & Johnson, NORAD Northcomm, Southern California Edison, UCLA, US Dept. of State, United States Army, US Embassy of Athens, the United States Marine Corps and many small to medium-sized companies and agencies.  Eric is the instructor behind PRSA’s top-rated social media and emerging treads training seminars, the Social Media Boot Camp and the Social Media Master Class, which are offered monthly in the US.

His upcoming book "Social Marketing to the Business Customer" about B2B applications of social media communications will be published by Wiley & Sons in January 2011.
Image by digitalbob8

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