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Measuring Success in Public Relations

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by Keerthana Dulipkumar , Senior Research Analyst, Marketing Agencies
1 January 2017


Public relations measurement and evaluation practices have been central concerns for practitioners since the late 1970s. For decades, almost all F500 advertisers as well as PR agencies have been looking for solutions connected with measurement, expressions of value, and the contribution of public relations to an organization. This article covers the following three most commonly adopted metrics in the public relations industry:

  • Advertising Value Equivalency
  • The Barcelona Principles
  • AMEC Integrated Evaluations Framework

Return on Investment in Public Relations

The Background Measurement matters, because in a very competitive marketplace for clients, dollars, internal resources, and respect, an industry wants to justify its contributions and impact. Return on investment (ROI) has become the most sought-after metric to demonstrate success for PR, because it connects PR outcomes to corporate goals and revenues. ROI can reveal the most cost-effective strategy, but may not indicate where to invest more resources, thus, overlooking key qualitative insights. Therefore, advertisers specify different PR goals and stipulate custom metrics for each PR campaign to measure impact and value. Such well-designed custom metrics deliver greater insight into success (or failure) than ROI.

Commonly Adopted Metrics for Public Relations

Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE):

AVE, also known as Equivalency Advertising Value (EAV), Advertising Cost Equivalents (ACE) or Advertising Space Equivalents (ASE), compares the value of earned media to advertising of a similar size and placement. It is a measure of the economic value of the space and time covered by print or broadcast media, had these media contents been purchased at advertising rates. However, the overwhelming majority of PR measurement experts dismiss AVEs as inaccurate and misleading.

The Barcelona Principles:

The Barcelona Principles refer to the Barcelona Declaration of Research Principles, a set of seven voluntary guidelines established by the public relations (PR) industry to measure the efficiency of PR campaigns. They were the first overreaching framework for effective public relations and communications measurement. These seven principles highlight both quantitative and qualitative approaches of practitioners.

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