Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Developments in the science behind the art of public relations

Anyone following professional public relations issues in recent years has to be aware of the debate about PR measurement and evaluation. The Institute for Public Relations (IPR) has been carrying the torch for standards and best practices of PR measurement and evaluation for years. But corporations and agencies have never been able to rally around any common set of definitions or objectives. IPR and PRSA published a Business Case for Public Relations in 2009. This was followed by the adoption by a group of international PR and research associations of a set of principles for PR measurement and evaluation at the AMEC (International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication) annual conference in 2010 (the "Barcelona Principles"). While the Barcelona Principles got attention among the research geeks, acknowledgement and adoption has been slow among corporations and the larger PR agencies.

Today, the Worldcom Public Relations Group issued a press release officially adopting the Barcelona Principles for its network of 107 agencies worldwide. For the first time in the history of the practice of professional public relations, it looks like we are on the way towards real industry standards and a common vocabulary. With the rapid growth of social media analytics, these developments are both welcome and urgent. We will all be watching to see how the Worldcom agencies implement this new commitment and whether other industry leaders follow.