Why PR measurement is broken, and how to fix it

According to this client, PR agencies must look beyond billable hours and use innovative tools to get to the heart of the matter.

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In 2010, 225 of the best minds in PR measurement met in Barcelona and brought the Barcelona Principles down from the mountaintop. These principles recognized the system was broken and established a new, standardized way for communications professionals to measure the efficacy of PR campaigns, shifting the focus of measurement from output to outcome. Other improvements called for the exclusion of advertising value equivalency (AVE) metrics and the recognition of the communications value of social media. The changes were all needed and commendable.

They ignited much discussion in the communications and PR community, yet five years later, there’s been tons of talk and not much action. Sure, they documented clear, basic standards in measurement for the first time ever, but measurement is still inextricably broken. The industry is not sure what to do about it. The flurry of white papers and op-eds on the subject hasn’t changed anything.

The Barcelona Principles are the best thing we have right now, but there’s still a lot we don’t know about measurement. From my vantage point on the client side, I’d like to share some insights about what clients want from agencies on the measurement and evaluation front:

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