Graduate Management News

June 2014

The Newsletter of the Graduate Management Admission Council

For School PR Teams, These Principles Can Help You Report the Value of Your Work

For communications and public relations teams at universities, you should be measuring your key metrics, such as enrollment or reputation improvement.

PR Measurement

For communications and public relations teams at universities, the challenge is ever-present: not only how to show that your media placement efforts, for instance, are successful in the short term, but that your larger strategies are moving metrics such as enrollment or reputation improvement or strengthening ties to potential donors.

A recent survey by PR News shows that many PR practitioners continue to collect metrics on their work that no longer provide value. For university PR teams, the ramifications are large. The survey, announced in Washington, DC at the PR News Measurement Conference in April, noted that 66 percent of respondents had never heard of a set of steps that the PR industry has established that go a long way to addressing these concerns.

The Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles are guidelines that more major firms are signing on to all the time, but too few PR practitioners understand. Agreed to at an international summit of the PR industry in 2010, the seven statements lay out a framework for the value of PR measurement, and align with related important statements the field of PR has established around ethics and accountability:

  1. Goal setting and measurement are fundamental aspects of PR programs. 
  2. Measuring the effect on outcomes is preferred to measuring outputs. 
  3. The effect on business results can and should be measured where possible. 
  4. Media measurement requires quantity and quality. 
  5. Advertising Value Equivalents (AVEs) do not measure the value of PR and do not inform future activity. 
  6. Social media can and should be measured. 
  7. Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement.

Much of the motivation for these principles are, of course, driven by a need to show results or ROI to clients of for-profit PR firms. But in-house PR teams, in any field, can benefit as well from developing consistent reporting structures built around these guidelines. Those reports, often delivered in dashboards or a collection of charts, with additional qualitative pieces, should include not just useful data, but most of all, insights, noted several speakers at the conference. The Barcelona Principles are the first steps toward realizing larger understandings, which can then drive more effective strategy and tactics.

Media Measurement DashboardMetrics for earned media effectiveness don’t have to start and end with charts and data, as qualitative analysis and insights matter as well. But vendors and many free sites offer tools that enable simple dashboard creation to show your results over whatever time you choose, in full color, as illustrated to the left.

“It’s not about getting a gold star, it’s about pointing to what works or what needs to be improved,” said Katie Paine, a measurement consultant. And, effective delivery of useful data about public engagement can go far beyond simply tracking your own tactical moves. Most PR pros “haven’t yet made the connection between the tweet and how to turn the tweet into a customer,” noted Sandra Fathi, who helped develop the PR News survey.


For more information about the Barcelona Principles, go to the website of the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication.