Why PR should know about Barcelona Principles

By on October 24, 2016
Barcelona Principles

Over the years, the ability to measure and analyse results have been pain points for PR firms. Businesses that opt for PR services want agencies to cover the complete measurement landscape. As targets of companies have undergone considerable change in the last few years, the measurement parameters have evolved with the advent of owned versus earned media, social platforms and the rising demand for judging analytics.


It’s shocking and surprising to find out that there are many PR professionals who do not know about the Barcelona Principles, forget about adhering to them. Since measuring the efficiency of campaigns implemented by PR agencies is necessary, understanding the relevance of Barcelona Principles for judging quality gains significance.

What is Barcelona Principles?

It is a set of seven voluntary norms that have been established by the PR industry to measure initiatives. In 2010, top-notch PR professionals from 33 nations met for a summit to understand the need for outcome instead of emphasising on an output-driven measurement of PR efforts. It stressed on the need to recognise communications value of social media.

The big question that comes to the fore now – Is it possible to calculate the impact of PR? Measurement is important for PR agencies to justify their contribution and impact made. PR is treated as a subjective science, which means you know when you see it but not positioned to quantify every single sales lead, the rise in revenue and rankings, impact on market share etc.

Nearly two decades ago, most PR consulting agencies would charge additional fees from its clientele for offering insights or use a physical ruler to judge the value of earned piece of media based on pre-decided parameters (size, ad equivalency etc).

So, what should be measured then? That’s where Barcelona Principles played a handy role as it allowed comparative analysis of campaigns, teams, resources etc. Apart from the rising competition from the ad and digital players, the technology advancement and data availability has propelled PR measurement as key. It is believed that the access to big data and insightful analytics has helped PR firms to improve their service offerings.

Why PR professionals should understand Barcelona Principles

Realising that more businesses, irrespective of their domain, have started to choose PR to improve brand positioning, it is important to leverage Barcelona Principles to its full potential. Here are few key pointers that will help the PR pros to offer the ‘best’.

  • Understand what matters

Most PR firms know well that impressions and circulation do not make real value. Since unprecedented data is available, relying on perceived value do not hold any relevance anymore.

The Barcelona Principles revolve around target creation and measurement, as both are fundamental to PR. Although, understanding that outputs are necessary to make the customers understand how the hours were utilised, but to determine success outcomes are what PR agencies should look at. It won’t matter if an agency has spent 10 hours to create a press release when targets were not met. Hence, it is advised to align the goals with the outcomes.

It is important for enterprises to know their goals and PR consulting agencies should be aligning PR strategy to provide support to those predefined targets.

  • Upgrade the long-term strategies

An efficient PR partner will be keen to identify the effect a strategy is having on the customer’s business with the sole aim to bag more business and improve their market position.

The Barcelona Principles clearly differentiate between measurement and evaluation besides stressing on the relevance of quantitative and qualitative analysis. While quantitative is all about counting targets met – media pitches, articles written, event attended or awards won – qualitative only leverages data to reach a judgement on the outcome’s effect and value.

When these key elements are understood, building robust strategies become possible.

  • Critical insights

It is obvious that when customers demand measurement based on the above principles, PR firms will be required to achieve what the client demands.

Marketing mavericks say that a competitive advantage exists for the PR partners to follow an innovative approach and push improved measurement to bag an edge over the agencies that do not offer analytical reporting. The Barcelona Principles has mentioned about it in detail.

  • Bag value for money

When a PR vendor is judged based on what it is able to achieve for a business, it helps the partnering agency to provide relevant data backed by relevant findings.

  • Long live PR

In the coming years, PR will spread its tentacles of growth and evolve further in the coming years, which will be backed by data and insights. The Barcelona Principles throws light on what a PR analysis should encompass with key stress on social media.

Since there is a growing clash in the media (comprising paid, earned, owned and shared media), it becomes necessary to have a set/predefined standard that will help the PR agencies to bolster their stand.

Barcelona Principles: a step towards the future?

While many beg to differ, Barcelona Principles have a strong group of critics. But overall, it has a lot of relevant information imbibed with good intentions. As PR as an industry is misunderstood often, having a set of standards to align values deserve appreciation.

It is time for PR to become accountable, as it will surely boost its reputation and reliability.



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