The Barcelona Principles – How We Measure The ‘Un-Measurable’

Academic Source: The Institute for PR – Launch of Barcelona Principles 2.0


Since the beginning, the biggest problem the PR industry has struggled with is the issue of measuring/quantifying the effectiveness of PR. Maybe that’s why AMEC (Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication) is the world’s largest professional body for communications research. The root of the problem is this - if your company pays a PR firm for news coverage, and your company earns media coverage as a result, how can you know how many people converted into buyers/customers as a direct result of seeing your company’s coverage?


Sure, it’s possible to measure or approximate how many people were reached by the coverage, but there’s no way to accurately determine how many people became customers as a direct result. Methods like online advertising solve this problem by tracking exactly how many people click through the advertisement and go on to purchase the product or service. 


The industry’s veterans and organizations came together to confront this issue and came up with the 7 Barcelona Principles, which still stand today as the industry’s best response to this problem. They are as follows;


1.      SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based) Goal Setting & Measurement are Fundamental to Communication and PR


2.      Focus on Measuring Outcomes instead of Measuring Outputs (translation: what your work achieves is more important to measure than how much work you’ve put in)


3.      Organizational Performance Can and Should be Measured Where Possible (translation: firms should evaluate their own Profitability, Customer Quality, Revenue Market Share, and Customer Retention)


4.      Measurement and Evaluation Require Both Qualitative and Quantitative Methods (translation: the quality of media coverage should be gauged by factors like tone, credibility, prominence, and relevancy)


5.      Advertising Value Equivalents (AVE’s) are Not the Value of PR/Communications (translation: earned media versus paid media should not be compared in terms of cost of space and time)


6.      Social Media Can and Should be Measured Consistently with Other Media Channels (translation: evaluate quantity/quality of social media just as you would conventional media)



7.      Transparency and Consistency are Key to Measurement and Evaluation (translation: practitioners must actively ensure integrity, honesty, openness and ethical practices)