Does your PR firm sign up to The Barcelona Declaration of Research principals?
It’s official now:- column inches as a measure of value are OUT- we are in a different world, and AVE’s (Average Value Equivalents) for measuring media coverage have been exposed as inaccurate, irrelevant and unjustifiable as a method of measuring PR value.
Representatives of the world’s PR organisations agreed the Barcelona Declaration of Research Principals last summer at the second European Summit on Measurement. To those who were paying attention they seem fairly obvious, and commentators have wondered why it has taken so long for the PR industry to show its concern for the subject.
PR Week has dropped AVE's as an acceptable measure of PR Campaign performance, and will no longer accept them in entries to its annual PR Week Awards
But before PR Agencies blindly agree that ‘it’s the way to go’, what do they need to do to make them happen? What measure should they replace AVE’s with and how do they ensure their Clients get a genuine benefit from any replacement?
Surely firms need to undergo a sea change in their business culture and management style before they can offer credible measurement methods. That can only come from adopting a new way of working that relies upon efficient business performance tools- such as Paprika.
Listed below is the agreed Barcelona Declaration of Research Principals, with our viewpoint of the issues that PR Agencies need to consider if they are intending to adhere to them
1. Measurement and goal setting are fundamental for any PR programmes
It’s not sufficient to rely solely upon the reputation of a firm in order to attract new business or retain existing customers. You have to have measures of business performance in order to substantiate the firm’s credentials in any given sector. Transparency of billing and added value services goes hand in glove with any metrics the firm applies to support the results of client PR activity.
2. Media measurement requires quantity and quality - clip cuts are generally meaningless
Justifying measures requires the agency to work much more closely with the client to agree the communications objective. While most agencies will rightly argue ‘that is a given’ principal, it remains incumbent on the agency to prove that the means justify the outcome- and they can only achieve that if they are transparent with clients about what they are doing, why they are doing it and how expensive is it (for the client) to achieve.
3. AVEs do not measure the value of PR and do not inform future activity; they measure the cost of media space
True- but the agency has to provide a viable alternative, and as in principal 3, without a firm-wide system that can provide a measurement methodology the firm could be exposed as ‘not working by example’.
4. Social media can and should be measured
As above- if the firm needs to draw on expertise from outside (social media research, additional analytics tools etc) how can it justify the costs of these investments if it can’t identify the value that they bring to the client.
5. Measuring outcomes is preferred to measuring media results
This is covered in all of the comments above
6. Business results can and should be measured where possible
This could not be clearer: without a culture of performance measurement to justify the client relationship then the firm will always be challenged to prove their value to the client.
7. Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement
This reinforces everything we have already said. If PR firms are serious about their value to corporate communications then they have to work smarter to earn the patronage of their clients. The communications world is changing so quickly it’s no longer acceptable to just keep doing the same thing year after year.
A tool such as Paprika will provide the performance measures that a business requires to justify its service levels, and more importantly, its fee income.
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