Marketing, communications and PR have been through enormous upheaval in recent years. You know that. Equally, efforts to make measurement a more relevant, clinical and tangible cornerstone of what we do have been ongoing in parallel.
The primary step forward in all of this was the establishment of AMEC’s Barcelona Principles in 2010. While much of the thinking behind those seven decrees were accepted, it brought consensus to how PR and communications should be measured, and has since become a baseline for how measurement should be done.
Today the next evolution of this work was unveiled in London. AMEC, the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communications, has set out seven updated principles. We may not have had Barcelona sunshine, but did get a progressive view of how what we do should be measured, and where that fits into the fast-changing world of marketing and communications within it.
What’s changed? The shifts may look subtle, yet are crucial.
In 2010, the initial principles were about gaining agreement about what was important, and equally what not to do. It got a same-sized and same-shaped ball rolling.
In 2015, the updated principles are first and foremost about measuring communications – with that being the focus, not just PR, in an integrated media environment and a more integrated world.
The thinking has moved on from those founding principles and consensus to gaining learnings we can apply, being more focused on what to do to advance the way measurement is done, and to acknowledging the importance of evaluation and insight in what we do. Equally, that qualitative methods are equally important as counting things, and that the world has become more integrated, so communications measurement must reflect that.
In short, media is ever-more integrated, communications practices are more integrated and the purpose of communications within the marketing mix is more integrated.
The emphasis of the principles has shifted from pure PR to broader communications, and pure business results to broader impact on the organization, reflecting not just work across all sectors but how communications can engage employees and nurture organizational change.
Here are the updated principles:
- Goal setting and measurement are fundamental to communication and PR
- Measuring communication outcomes is recommended versus only measuring outputs
- The effect on organizational performance can and should be measured where possible
- Measurement and evaluation require both qualitative and quantitative methods
- AVEs are not the value of communication
- Social media can and should be measured consistently with other media channels
- Measurement and evaluation should be transparent, consistent and valid
Challenges remain in adopting these principles across the industry, but the intention and the focus are clear. Expect this to filter through into efforts to make measurement more sophisticated, relevant, contextual and precise as communications – more integrated communications – continues to evolve.