Pauline Draper-WattsAs I reflect on my two years of chairing the Institute for Public Relations Commission on Measurement and Evaluation, I appreciate the rich legacy passed on by preceding chairs and the amazing team who tirelessly give their time and expertise to further the quest for good research and measurement. I feel privileged to work with many of the foremost thought leaders in our field who are passionate about research and measurement.

In the past two years we have seen two major initiatives.

The IPR Commission shaped the recommended measurement standards as part of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) initiative to promote the Business Case for Public Relations. The Commission also worked with the PRSA to compile an extensive database of measurement resources many of which came from IPR papers that can be found on our website.

The second major initiative has been the Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles that was presented, debated and voted on at the 2nd European Summit on Measurement organized by the Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) and the Institute for Public Relations. In addition to the IPR Commission, AMEC and the PRSA we were joined by the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management and the International Communications Consultancy Organization. We saw more than 200 delegates from 33 countries entering into the discussion and providing feedback.

The 7 Barcelona Principles are:

1. Importance of Goal Setting and Measurement

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. AVEs are not the Value of Public Relations

6. Social Media Can and Should be Measured

7. Transparency and Replicability are Paramount to Sound Measurement.

The principles will again be addressed in Lisbon, Portugal when AMEC and IPR host the 3rd European Summit on Measurement from June 8-10, 2011. Like the two previous Summits, we will continue to use this European Summit to establish the basic philosophy behind a set of standard practices for proving the value of public relations to business.

Perhaps the most controversial of these principles is the one associated with AVEs.

Within the commission we have had a year-long task force following up on our October 2009 vote to reject the term, concept and practice of Advertising Value Equivalent. This resulted in a paper which concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that advertising and editorial space hold equivalent value. While use of AVE is a common practice, this does not justify that practice as appropriate. AVEs are not a proxy for measuring value or return-on-investment for public relations.

Following on from the Summit, several members of the commission have been involved with the AMEC task force to look at validated metrics to replace AVEs. A further task force has been set up to consider Social Media metrics. Both of these task forces presented at the IPR Measurement Summit in October (see and at the AMEC/PRSA London Summit last month.

Throughout my term we have also published several white papers on a range of topics. I will mention one here and encourage you to explore all of the IPR papers online. We produced an update to Guidelines for Setting Measurable PR Objectives which aligns well with Principle 1 of the Barcelona Principles. The paper has been translated into Chinese and published in the December edition of the China International Public Relations Association’s journal PR Magazine.

As always we have supported the International Public Relations Research Conference in Miami and the Summit on Measurement both of which always prove to be a stimulating time both within the presentation settings and in offline discussion.

I am delighted that Dr David Geddes, Vice President of Research & Development at evovle24, a Maritz Research company, will be our next chair. He has done an excellent job of steering the publications committee and is excited to be taking on leadership of the commission. David has creative, exciting plans for this coming year and I will leave him to talk about them in a future post.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve the IPR Commission and advance measurement and evaluation in our profession.

Pauline Draper-Watts


Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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