The Value of Measurement
Public Relations professionals have long been tasked with calculating PR’s impact for a firm. For years the value of PR had been calculated using Advertising Value Equivalents (AVEs) system. AVEs primarily refer to the cost of buying space taken up by an article, had the article been an advertisement.
There were many problems with using AVEs as a form of PR calculation, not the least of which was the fact AVEs are confusing. The Public Relations industry developed a method to deal with this change in reporting value.
In 2010, PR experts gathered in Barcelona to draft the first version of the Barcelona principles. These policies were created with the intent to do away with AVEs as a form of calculating PR value and move to an internationally accepted measurement based system. The original principles served as guidelines of what not to do.
Five years later, the Barcelona principles were again revisited and updated to illustrate best practices for PR professionals to measure their Public Relations efforts. Thus, the Barcelona Principles 2.0 were born. They are as follows:
- Goal Setting and Measurement are Fundamental to Communication and Public Relations
- Measuring Communication Outcomes is Recommended Versus Only Measuring Outputs
- The Effect on Organizational Performance Can and Should be Measured Where Possible
- Measurement and Evaluation Require Both Qualitative and Quantitative Methods
- AVEs are not the Value of Communications
- Social Media Can and Should be Measured Consistently with Other Media Channels
- Measurement and Evaluation Should be Transparent, Consistent and Valid
These guidelines provide a practical framework from which to accurately gauge the effect of your PR, and how to best track ROI. With so much money flowing to digital marketing ( internal link), it is no surprise new methods to track ROI were developed. However, the Barcelona Principles are still little known.
Let’s take a look at how we can apply The Barcelona Principles from the viewpoint of a fictional tech startup, Glamour Software.
A Case Study in Public Relations Measurement
Glamour Software is a company that makes money through the selling of software which makes customers websites look glamourous and unique. Recently Glamour launched a new online marketing campaign which includes social media strategy, an email campaign, and a shiny new website. However, Glamour isn’t effectively measuring their PR efforts in accordance with the Barcelona Principles. We will examine how they can improve upon their measurement.
Glamour launched their campaign with just a general goal of growing their business. They want their advertisements and social media strategy to promote their activities, increasing revenue with no specific targets for individual platforms. This form of goal setting is hard to measure and track. Instead, Glamour should be setting SMART business goals and continuously evaluate their company in relation to these aims. Also, goals should be both qualitative and quantitative ( both measurable and easy to explain) and must be integrated across all channels. Through defined goals, Glamour will improve their ROI measurement.
Glamour’s PR team is also running a Google Adwords campaign. Currently, they measure the effectiveness of this campaign by looking at the number of clicks their sponsored content is receiving. While this is an important part of measuring the efficiency of an ad campaign, it is not the only metric Glamour should be tracking. PR professionals should take a holistic view of measurement for their campaigns. This means instead of tracking just clicks; teams need to track time spent on site, the number of pages visited, leads generated, the number of conversions, etc. A lesser known metric that receives less attention than it deserves is the Net Promoter Score (NPS). The NPS tracks the willingness of customers to recommend a show to others. It provides insight into brand perception.
In addition to their advertising strategy, Glamour has also sent out emails to potential customers, informing them of their product. Glamours PR team is happy because the emails are receiving a high volume of opens and clicks on the website link. However, they receive few replies and time spent on their site is low. Glamour measures the success of their email campaign based upon purely quantitative data which has little impact on their overall strategy. What Glamour should be doing is measuring and evaluating their email campaign through the use of both qualitative and quantitative data. For example, their PR team should be measuring both the number of opens as well as the replies they receive from those interested. It is crucial to gauge the level of engagement your target audience has with your marketing strategies.
Glamour’s current approach to measure the financial benefits of their campaign is to use AVEs. They use a multiplier to gain an estimated dollar amount for how effective their PR efforts are. This is a flawed way to calculate PR efforts, and the entire goal of the Barcelona Principles is to replace AVEs. In keeping with the Principles, Glamour should not be using any multiplier or AVE, instead relying on thorough measurement and evaluation.
A key component of Glamour’s marketing campaign is their social media campaign. Glamour’s team assumes their strategy is very effective do to the fact their posts are receiving a large number of likes, favourites and views. These metrics may serve to boost the ego of the PR team, but they are poor ways to measure the effectiveness of a campaign. Instead, Glamour’s should focus on measuring the engagement of their audience with their social media posts. This could include audience discussion on posts, shares, retweets or number of people that are directed to the website after viewing a post. As well, it is important to measure social media in concurrence with other media channels and to define clear goals and expectations for your social media channels.
The last and arguably the most important point in the Barcelona Principles 2.0 is that Measurement and Evaluation Should be Transparent, Consistent and Valid. Having a clearer method serves to ensure the honesty and integrity throughout all marketing and PR tactics and holds all professionals accountable. We should not skew data we have gathered so as to provide the illusion of meeting our business goals or to justify increased spend on failing PR strategies. This principle also points out the importance of consistency. The methods used to gather data should be able to be replicated by others.
Measurement is one of the most critical components of Public Relations and Marketing. The Barcelona Principles provide the framework PR firms can use to ensure they can measure their strategies with integrity.
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