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Can Barcelona Principles be implemented in India?

31st October 2013


Measurement of Public Relations is discussed in every workshop or conference around PR.

A recent PR conference, #PRAXIS2013, at Lavasa, India, had a master class on Measurement by Dr. David Rockland, Chairman, International Association for Measurement & Evaluation of Communication.

Still, while measurement gets a lot of our mind space, it does not get the same importance in our actions. Have you ever wondered why?

I have been asked several times if Barcelona Principles can be implemented in India? Here are the three reasons that are often cited along with this question:

Because they (Barcelona Principles) were created by some trade body outside India and they may not understand Indian environment

This is a fair point as long as you do not know that PR and measurement practitioners from over 30 countries participated in the creation of Barcelona principles. India was also represented in this mix via Impact Research & Measurement. I was personally present there and I can promise you that the challenges we face in India are not very different from the ones faced by people in the other 30 countries.

We may want to think our situation is different, our leaders are more demanding, our media is more complex, but that simply is not true. In fact, compared to India, social media usage is more prominent in several other countries, and including social media in the measurement equation makes it even more complex

Because they refute using advertising value equivalents (AVEs) or false multipliers but that’s what we use and our management team only understands $ metrics

In the past, it was a common practice to use AVEs that equate the value of public relations with the cost of advertising and that earned media is always at least thrice as valuable as paid media. But, we all know that it’s not true and yet some of us are still using the AVEs.

At the Barcelona summit, when Barcelona Principles were being debated, there was near-total agreement on this principle (92 per cent) amongst the practitioners present there. The practitioners included representatives from leading PR agencies, Corporates and Measurement Companies. Even in later AMEC conferences, nearly all countries reported a demand for AVEs but also voiced their continued support to stop using them. Several measurement companies have started refusing client work if the client is not willing to evaluate non-AVE metrics.

And incase you are wondering, If we don’t use AVEs, then what are the right metrics?

Then please take a look at the Valid Metrics framework. Valid Metrics Framework is a measurement planning framework and template developed under the auspices of AMEC. It is a series of metrics, based on the familiar marketing funnel, that are easy to use and show what to measure for different types of PR programs — CSR, public affairs, employee engagement, brand marketing, etc. Also, here are views of some of the learned measurement professionals on why AVEs are not good.

Because they don’t tell me how to measure PR. They don’t define any metrics or detail the technique to be used for quantitative or qualitative measurement

You are right. Barcelona Principles are not meant to be a guide to formulas or metrics or methodology for output measurement. They are bigger than that. They are standards which attempt to bring all practitioners and practice of measurement on a common platform. They create a base that the industry can build-on further. In fact, they are very simple and basic (and that’s also another criticism that I have heard). But following them requires clarity of thought, knowledge of fundamentals and passion for PR. Here are some more details of each of the Barcelona principles.

If you are now convinced or at least curious to evaluate the Barcelona principles, I request you to test your programme/ work for Barcelona Principles compliance. You may be surprised with the results. Good luck. Happy Measuring!!!

Aseem Sood, CEO at Impact Research and Measurement and Director at AMEC


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