The Beat

Measuring Public Relations 2: Turning Principles into Action


The public relations industry is always evolving.  From shrinking newsrooms and adapting, to new technologies, to becoming fully integrated with other industries, being a public relations professional now means being able to work across all forms of media including social media, owned media and content development, advertising and more. So how we plan and measure public relations also must be integrated.

We recently wrote on the topic of measuring public relations and introduced you to The Barcelona Principles. These principles are a great jumping off point on the topic of measurement and are really the first overarching framework for effective public relations and communication measurement.

But how do we put these principles into action? How do we apply them to the work we do every day? By using the principles as a guide, we suggest a four step process while planning and executing any public relations strategy.


Step 1: Set Clear Objectives
Having a clear understanding of what you want to achieve is first and foremost essential to any public relations plan and the first step when wanting to measure any success. Objectives should take into account everything from reach to behavioral outcomes. What portion of your target audience do you want to reach? What should the target do as a result? Objectives should also be SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and have a timetable.

Step 2: Identify Outputs
Outputs are measurements of activity. In many cases, PR agencies create plans built around outputs. This really is only the beginning when it comes to PR professionals showing the full impact of their work. While press releases, social media posts and earned media placements are fabulous, the more the merrier in most cases, outputs can’t fully explain to what extent people’s behavior has been influenced.

Step 3: Measure Outtakes
Outtakes are what your target audience took way from your communication materials. It is here where we start to see what kind of impact your public relations efforts might be having. This is where you will evaluate the initial responses and reactions to your communication. This may come in the form of a clickthrough, more followers, a Like on Facebook, subscribing to a newsletter, etc.

Step 4: Measure Outcomes
Since outcomes focus on behavioral changes, this is where we start to see real impact of your PR plan on your initial objective. Has the target audience increased understanding, has it changed their attitude to the topic, has it had an impact on the intention to do something? A survey is one way you can measure outcomes.


With public relations taking on so many mediums, from earned media to social media, our industry is beginning to have a more integrated approach when it comes to measuring the success of a campaign. These steps can help guide you and your clients to focusing efforts on clear goals and measuring what really matters. AMEC has also developed Framework which is useful for creating a plan and help demonstrate the value of a strategic PR plan.