It’s time to rethink how you measure the impact of your communications

The Barcelona Principles remain an effective framework to help you determine what is and isn’t working.

Whenever you’re rolling out a new messaging campaign at your organization, its worth will ultimately come depending on what, and how you measure its effectiveness on your desired audience. In the absence of clear goals and focus for your audience, you risk repeating mistakes and honing in on the wrong metrics or insights. Thankfully, there is a framework that can help communicators measure their successes.

Now in their third edition, the Barcelona Principles are a set of guidelines that help communicators measure the effectiveness of their communications campaigns. Agreed upon by The International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC), the principles set up a global standard of measurement for all communications campaigns. Updated in 2020 just before the comms landscape changed forever, the Barcelona Principles 3.0 focus on how communications campaigns can be measured to account for the choice of language and inclusion on an international scale. There are seven main principles on the list, but here are a few that are particularly important for you to understand today.

Nicole Moreo, head of customer insights at LinkedIn and AMEC’s North America chapter chair, will go into diver deeper into how you can apply these principles to your program during the first lesson of Ragan’s Measurement Certificate Course for Communicators on Oct. 12.

Setting insight-driven goals at the top is a must.

Although it might seem a little obvious, it needs to be said; to measure how successful your campaigns are, you need to set goals and benchmarks! The biggest key here is articulating the ‘why’ behind setting the objectives you’ve put forth. Are you running a campaign that seeks to build trust with a younger demographic? If so, define how you measure trust internally on the social platforms those people are using.

If you haven’t done the proper background research, you’re going to be flying blind. By seeking insights with an end goal in mind, you can target your communications and set your organization up for sustained, repeatable success.

Segment your messages to measure for maximum impact.

When you’re setting out on a communications campaign, you need to think strategically about exactly what it is you want to achieve. If you’re just blasting a message out into the ether for the sake of it, it’s almost guaranteed you’re going to fall short of what you want to accomplish.

For instance, let’s say you’re working for a company that’s aiming to reach young professionals in big cities across the country. At the outset, you might think this is an easy proposition, seeing as this is a large demographic. However, listening to the desires of this demo will remind you that they’re not a monolith everywhere and these nuances can inform where, and how, you send out your message. A Millennial in their late 30s is likely going to receive their information quite a bit differently than a Gen Z-er in their early 20s will, and communications strategy should account for this. Without context, your data isn’t going to be as valuable as it could be with proper research.

Include the qualitative inputs along with the quantitative ones

When looking at how successful your campaign is, you might be satisfied with reporting the numbers alone. Sure, this is absolutely an aspect of how you should be measuring your success, but considering the qualitative metrics (trust, awareness, brand credibility) requires you to consider how those numbers — and other types of data — tell a larger story.

If you’re running an outreach campaign, for example, you should look beyond how many people are receiving your message and also be attuned to how many people are responding to it. Just as importantly, you need to be looking at how they’re responding to it. Have a system in place for evaluating verbal and written feedback about your communications, too—it can help you adjust your strategy needed and move forward with invaluable knowledge.

Ethics and integrity matter

The latest update to the Barcelona Principles serves as a reminder that you should consider how you’re attaining metrics before you start measuring. All campaigns should honest, transparent and should seek to drive a conversation forward. This means avoiding biases of any kind in the interpretation of data to get to the heart of the message in a real way. It also means being honest about the channels and services you use to obtain audience data, and ensuring those practices are in compliance with federal and local privacy laws.

Next time you’re setting out on a comms campaign, think about not just what you’re looking at to measure success, but how you’re measuring it. We’re willing to bet it’ll help you make your campaign the best it can be.

Looking to master your communications measurement skills? Join Ragan’s Measurement Certificate Course for Communicators, held over three consecutive Wednesdays on October 12, 19, and 26 from 1-3 PM.

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night.

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