Standardised measurement and evaluation of public relations: normative guidelines for implementing the Barcelona Principles in South African practice
Public relations (PR) measurement and evaluation has been an imperative for practitioners and academics for over 40 years. The publication of the Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles (the Barcelona Principles) was arguably one of the largest advancements toward a global standard for PR measurement and evaluation. However, these principles were drafted in accordance with global PR best practice, which raises the issue of localisation when applied in country-specific contexts. This study aims to investigate the implementation of the Barcelona Principles in the South African PR context, which often deviates from global theoretical norms. Building on existing literature of PR best practice, it asks: What normative guidelines can be set for implementing the Barcelona Principles in the unique South African PR landscape? A mixed-methods sequential explanatory design type was used to investigate current PR practices and the challenges and factors influencing the adoption of the Barcelona Principles among South African PR practitioners, drawing from surveys and semi-structured interviews with PR practitioners. Statistical analyses of quantitative data were used to determine the correlations between PR practice and measurement and evaluation practices, and interview information was used to understand trends and provide insight into practitioners’ interpretation of the constructs investigated. The findings concluded that PR best practice and the measurement and evaluation thereof is inextricable in South African practice, where the level of practice maturity determines the level of measurement maturity that is possible. This relationship can be conceptually plotted on a matrix of practice- and measurement maturity. Negotiating practice maturity and measurement maturity would allow for the implementation of the Barcelona Principles in the South African PR practice, and seven guidelines are proposed for navigating the matrix towards the ultimate goal of evaluation. The study creates the opportunity for further investigation of the practice-measurement maturity matrix to refine the concept for South African practice to establish a useful tool that can pragmatically guide practitioners toward more mature practices on both axes of the matrix.
- Humanities