Barcelona Principles 3.0: Seven Principles To Guide Communicators

Ten years ago, PR practitioners from around 35 countries met in Barcelona, Spain for a summit that would advance the PR/communications industry globally.

Organised by the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC), the summit established the Barcelona Declaration of Research Principles.

These seven principles would serve as a guide for practitioners, to help quantify the impact of the considerably subjective science of public relations, both transparently and reliably.

The principles were listed as follows:

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 measurements 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

They were however, written with the knowledge that this is a dynamic industry, engaged in constant evolution. They have been revisited accordingly on two occasions. Once in 2015 and again, virtually, last week.

Here is an overview of the amended principles:

1.Setting goals is essential to communications planning, measurement, and evaluation.

The importance of the planning process is made paramount here. Setting a goal is essential, meaning no campaign should commence without first establishing. Agree with your team on the goal, and revisit regularly, this will ensure you are agile enough to pivot if need be and capitalise on opportunities.

2. Measurement and evaluation should identify outputs, outcomes, and potential impact.

Communicators should not only measure their content, and responses to that content, they should connect these to a wider context that tells a more meaningful story.

For example, a campaign may be taking off on one social channel but lagging on the other. Considering a wider context would involve assessing those channels. Are your target audiences present on them? Are they gaining/losing relevance in general.

3. Outcomes and impact should be identified for each audience

When identifying ideal outcomes and desired impact, communicators should consider how they’ll be different for each audience.

Not-for-profits for example, would lend a much greater focus to societal impact than business outcomes such as profit margins.

4. Qualitative and quantitative analysis are of equal importance

A comprehensive suite of methods is essential to fully understand the impact of your work. This extends above numbers, and towards analysing how messages are received and construed.

Don’t just look at how many people liked something, try to understand why they liked it.

5. Advertising Value Equivalent (AVEs) are Not the Value of Communication

This is one principle that has remained consistent in the ten years since the foundation of the Barcelona principles. AVE refers to the cost of buying the space taken up by a particular article, had the article been an advertisement. The argument against it is PR is not advertising and therefore shouldn’t be compared with it.

Perhaps a broadening of the list of unsatisfactory metrics would be helpful. Automated sentiment, for example – which involves automated software analysing the sentiment of news and social media pieces, is often flawed.

6. Measurement and evaluation include all relevant online and offline channels

Measurement and evaluation should be deployed across all relevant channels, using the most effective tools for each respective channel.

For example, a survey would be a useful tool to assess a user’s experience on a website but would not be appropriate in assessing someone’s response to a tweet.

It is important to regularly reevaluate all metrics.

7.  Integrity and transparency drive learning

Integrity, honesty, openness, and ethical practices ensure the industry remains sustainable and a measurable influence on business around the world.

At Pesel & Carr, our mission of using the power of communication for good subscribes to these expectations.

As it is not a precise science, measuring the impact of public relations and communications remains a distinct challenge.

With each evolution the Barcelona Principles maintain increased demands that the industry upholds standards of integrity and transparency. While adequately measuring the impact of public relations and communications remains difficult, these principles ensure the industry attempts to do so as responsibly as possible.

View the Barcelona Principles 3.0 PowerPoint Presentation here


I love Zoom but it just doesn’t get my tail wagging

Zoom seems to have taken over the world; work, socialising, exercise, dating…name an activity and someone will prove it’s possible to do over Zoom.

My colleague has been flat hunting during a pandemic and was forced to endure an awkward viewing and interview on Zoom over the weekend.

Now, Zoom has helped us all through the pandemic, but I wonder whether the longer the lockdowns run, the more apparent the limitations of video conferencing software will become.

I was telling my canine pals my colleague’s story in Edinburgh Gardens the other day, so I’m going to tell it to you all in the first person. Because story telling is insipid in the third person.

I dialed in, a little late admittedly, and there staring at me in silence were my potential flatmates dressed like it was Woodstock 1969.

“Hi Louis” they said, “hey dudes” I said pandering to their hippie vibes. Bad start.

An awkward silence followed, as clearly neither of us had thought about who would lead the conversation.

Then that awkward Zoom thing happened where you both go to speak at the same time, “you go”, no “you go.” We’ve all been there.

“So, Louis, do you like plants?”, they asked.

“Yeah, sure, I like plants.”

“Good, we have a lot of those here.”

“And how do you pass the time during a lockdown Louis?”

“Oh, you know the usual; Netflix, good coffee, reading…just keep the 2016 pinot noir bottle away from me because once I pop, I can’t stop. Haha.”

The painfully mundane and cringeworthy dialogue continued in much the same fashion, which made me realise no matter how much we try to continue our lives in this virtual new normal, it will never replace the powerful force of human (or animal) connection.

The search for a flat continues.

What’s the most unique activity you’ve carried out on a video call?

We’d love to hear from you!