While you might get some measurable results, it is still not an exact science, and there are a lot of people and companies that have created many models, tables and estimates and to be clear they are all estimates, some are better than others and this is easily the most emotionally charged topic in the PR industry.
Although many professionals swear by the Barcelona Principles (seven voluntary guidelines set by professionals in the industry to measure the value of PR campaigns), the first principles were established in 2010 when practitioners from 33 countries met in Lisbon, Portugal, and only joking, they called it Barcelona. What happened included interviewing authors, measuring and judging and calculating the seven principles can be complicated, time consuming and costly. It may also involve hiring a foreign company, but it’s a noble effort and worth exploring, so the principles were recently updated in 2015.
The Barcelona Principles provide a framework for measuring communications and they are not specific tools or formulas. But however, by applying them you end up with a solid program of measuring communications, because within each principle there are quite specific guidelines regarding how to write measurable goals and then the techniques you apply for each type of measurement, including what are the best ways to apply those techniques. The Principles reflect the fact that communications take a very different form, and the Principles guide you on how to measure each form and there are many companies and other types of organizations from Southwest Airlines to the Cleveland Clinic to the UK Government that use the principles as a basis for measuring communications.
Here’s the 2015 update on Barcelona Principles:
1. Goal Setting and Measurement are Fundamental to Communication and Public Relations
2. Measuring Communication Outcomes is Recommended Versus Only Measuring Outputs
3. The Effect on Organizational Performance Can and Should Be Measured Where Possible
4. Measurement and Evaluation Require Both Qualitative and Quantitative Methods
5. AVEs are not the Value of Communication
6. Social Media Can and Should be Measured Consistently with Other Media Channels
7. Measurement and Evaluation Should be Transparent, Consistent and Valid
It is reasonable people may disagree, but the Barcelona Principles, or anything else that enhances the understanding and value of the PR industry, is a good thing, because without effort like these, no one would know what we were doing.