Gone are the days when PR ROI was difficult to measure – in fact, most companies have been looking to measure the impact of their PR campaigns for some time now. But as companies put a greater emphasis on data-driven results, and measurement becomes an increasingly important component of PR, everyone from CMOs to heads of PR agencies still struggle to understand exactly what should be included when measuring their results.

In a very competitive marketplace for clients, dollars and internal resources, measurement offers PR professionals a way to demonstrate their contributions and impact on the company’s business goals and growth objectives. However, the rapidly evolving PR function along with an ever-expanding media landscape can make it difficult to know what metrics even matter anymore – no longer is it enough to track just quantity of coverage, impressions, prominence in story (feature vs. mention) and social shares. So how can companies calculate the value of their PR efforts?

Well, you can’t manage what you can’t measure and while there is no mathematical formula to quantify PR ROI, there are several guidelines that can help.

One school of thought that is gaining a lot of attention is the Barcelona Principles – the voluntary guidelines established in 2010 and updated last year to measure the efficacy of PR campaigns. The overarching framework of seven principles for effective PR and communication measurement was developed and supported by global industry groups including the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication, the Institute for Public Relations, the International Communications Consultancy Organization and the Public Relations Society of America, among others.

At Affect, we are always looking for metrics to measure our success in ways that demonstrate not only the value that PR brings to the table but that help build real ROI for our clients. The Barcelona Principles provide an industry-accepted framework for measurement and also help eliminate some of the outdated models that many firms still use today.

Here are the latest principles:

  • PRINCIPLE 1: Goal Setting and Measurement are Fundamental to Communication and Public Relations
  • PRINCIPLE 2: Measuring Communication Outcomes is Recommended Versus Only Measuring Outputs
  • PRINCIPLE 3: The Effect on Organizational Performance Can and Should Be Measured Where Possible
  • PRINCIPLE 4: Measurement and Evaluation Require Both Qualitative and Quantitative Methods
  • PRINCIPLE 5: AVEs are Not the Value of Communication
  • PRINCIPLE 6: Social Media Can and Should be Measured Consistently with Other Media Channels
  • PRINCIPLE 7: Measurement and Evaluation Should be Transparent, Consistent and Valid

Several of these principles hit the nail on the head for the work we do at Affect. At the start of every project with a client, we create an agreed upon set of goals for what we think success will look like and then work back to hit those targets, adjusting our efforts in real-time as needed. Identifying metrics and measuring against these goals is key not only for demonstrating proof of our performance, but also fostering continuous improvement. By engaging in a transparent conversation with our clients around what we want to achieve and how we plan to achieve it, we eliminate any surprises from the process – everyone knows where we stand at any given point in time.

Demonstrating the value of PR beyond the number of press clipping secured for your client is critical and having a measurement and evaluation component to your program will show that PR generates long-term business benefits, not just short-term responses.

How is your company tracking for success?

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