4 Reasons Why You Need a Communications Audit
A new year is the perfect time to hit pause and audit your organization’s communications. While the term audit can be scary, the process doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Rather, it’s getting clear on how your organization communicates and taking stock of what’s working, what’s not and what’s missing.
The scope and detail of your communications audit is up to you. It can be an audit of internal communications, external or a mix. What’s most important in this post-pandemic world is you hit pause and take an honest look at your communications to ensure they’re meeting your audience needs (and your organization’s capacity).
As a consultant who’s conducted many communications audits, I know how they powerful they can be in adjusting course or staying on track.
Still need some convincing? Here are 4 reasons why you need a communications audit.
#1 Capture COVID lessons
The biggest reason is the pandemic changed how people want to receive information and, conversely, how organizations communicate – both internally and externally. In my work as a consultant, I’ve had organizations embrace Facebook Live despite having never done live video (or much video at all) before COVID. Why? They quickly found it was the best way to connect with community members, especially when conveying essential information.
Other organizations saw sharp increases to their digital media and had to pivot on how they used their website and social media accounts. They needed to shift from being formal to more conversational. With the corporate speak and sales focused posts falling flat, it was replaced with a more friendly and community-based tone.
It’s important to not cast aside the communications pivots made during the pandemic. Rather, hit pause and determine what pivots need to stay and what needs to go.
#2 Know how much is enough
Another common question I get going into a communication audit is – are we communicating enough or too much? We had consistent tools and frequency of communications pre-COVID. But we went off script when COVID changed how we communicate. Now that we’re back to “normal” what do we do? Do we return to our previous strategy?
How much do people want to hear from us? What is the line between enough communications and people tuning us out?
These are all really important questions to ask. And the only way to get the answers is to talk to people. Figure out what information they want, how often and by what means.
You’ll often find auditing your communications results in less work afterwards as you have the information needed to streamline your communications.
#3 Identify your weak spots
No organization is 100% rocking communications. We all have our weak spots. The challenge is we don’t always have the time or expertise to address these areas – hence why they’re our weak spots.
But here’s the cool thing. I’ve often uncovered weak spots that went under the radar and were the root of the bigger problem.
A simple example. One local government struggled with lots of calls from the public with planning questions. They created tonnes of brochures and posters but never did an audit of their website. While they had the brochures and information people were calling about on their website, it was buried. And when you did find the information, it was written in corporate speak, making it hard to understand.
The quick fix – creating a page answering the top 10 planning questions. This page was clean and easy to read. The brochures were updated to be visual and written in clear language.
The result – phone calls went down and web traffic went up. When people got the information they needed, they stopped calling. This freed up staff time to work on projects, not answer questions.
#4 Plan for growth
The final reason you need to audit your communications is to plan for change. While a communications manager may be tempted to skip an audit, thinking they know what’s needed (new website, more staff), this is a bad idea.
Why? It’s more powerful if the plan for change comes from feedback from others in your organization and community instead of the communications department.
Hey, it’s not us saying we need a new website (even if you’ve been begging for a new one for years). Now you have the data to back it up – 85% of survey respondents indicated a need for a new website. Then sprinkle in some quotes from your audit interviews.
When it comes to spending money and adding resources, you need to create a strong case. And what can be stronger than the results of a communications audit that included feedback from key audiences.
Wondering how to get started? I can help. Check out my website for sample questions and a step-by-step guide.