The new charter of principles reflects the growing unease among many PR agency chiefs about the Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) system that is still commonly used to calculate the value of PR activity.
The seven key principles, named the Barcelona Declaration of Research Principles, were created last week in the Catalan capital, which hosted the second European Summit on Measurement. The event saw leaders of five global professional measurement and evaluation bodies, and 200 delegates from the world's top measurement companies and PR agencies, join together.
Among the principles (see box, right) was a rejection of AVEs, which the group said failed to measure the value of PR and did not inform future activity, but measured the cost of media space.
Edelman UK CEO Robert Phillips welcomed the principles. He said: 'A lot of this makes total sense. From the need to finally escape from the (misplaced) shadow of advertising by jettisoning AVEs, to properly measuring outcomes and business results. This is an important step forward.'
EasyJet comms manager Sarah McIntyre added: 'The two key points are quality over quantity, and not using AVEs to measure PR.
'Organisations know that they need a PR function, but it is sometimes difficult for them to really understand the value, beyond endless clippings, in both budget spent and costs saved for the business. Good media evaluation can help the PR team to show this value.'
The principles were voted on at the three-day conference, organised by the Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication and the Institute for Public Relations. The principles will now be tweaked before a final version is published in mid-July.
Ketchum Pleon Change CEO David Rockland, who led the session, said: 'I am very pleased that we made a huge step forward in professionalising PR.'
Hill & Knowlton worldwide director, strategic services, Ruth Pestana, who attended the conference, said: 'The challenge for the PR industry is to look beyond clip counting and purely quantitative measures, to more meaningful, higher value media analysis and survey research.'
SEVEN KEY PRINCIPLES
1. Measurement and goal setting are fundamental for any PR programmes
2. Media measurement requires quantity and quality - clip cuts are generally meaningless
3. AVEs do not measure the value of PR and do not inform future activity; they measure the cost of media space
4. Social media can and should be measured
5. Measuring outcomes is preferred to measuring media results
6. Business results can and should be measured where possible
7. Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement
200 - The number of delegates at the conference
33 - The number of nationalities represented at the conference
7 - The number of key principles agreed upon
5 - The number of global bodies involved in drafting the principles
HOW I SEE IT - THE VIEW FROM THE INDUSTRY ASSOCIATIONS
- Jay O'Connor, President, CIPR
We support the principles. For the first time there is a clear and unequivocal position on fundamentals such as goal setting, a rejection of AVEs as a measure of PR value and measuring outcomes, not outputs.
If PR value is to be understood, then we need to move away from spurious measures such as clip volume.
There will be challenges - how do PR practitioners respond to clients that want measures that do not reflect the principles? How do they cut through social media measurement hype? We are developing detailed guidance on this, with input from AMEC.
We have an opportunity to build on the principles, develop case studies, create momentum and have a dialogue with client organisations on what will be international best practice approaches.
- Richard Houghton, President, ICCO; past chairman, PRCA
For too long, we have failed to rise to AMEC's challenge of putting evaluation at the heart of our industry.
For close to a decade, we have committed ourselves to cracking the conundrum we face - that everybody agrees rigorous evaluation is vital for our industry to fulfil its potential, but that few are willing to pay for it.
These principles will be the building blocks that enable us to tailor evaluation techniques to each individual market - enabling us to reflect the undeniable fact that PR markets around the world are at different stages of maturity.
Evaluation needs to be flexible. Social media require new and different evaluation approaches to traditional media, and so we will need to be able to identify and measure ROI to demonstrate value and inform future campaigns.