Communications Audit – A Boring Title But Powerful Tool
If you’re like me, the word audit has you rolling your eyes and sighing. Don’t worry, it’s a common reaction, especially amongst communicators. Okay forget about the word audit for a second. Think about a communications audit as taking a screenshot of your organization’s current communications systems and processes.
This is all about hitting the pause button. It’s looking around you, taking stock of communications processes and deliverables, evaluating what’s working, what’s not and what just needs to stop. This evaluation can include website content, print ads, brochures, social media posts, letters, press releases and any other ways your organization interacts and engages with its various audiences.
Too often in our busy lives we rush from project to project. We rarely take the time to stick our head above water (or look over our cubicle walls) to analyze the success of a project. If you’re not measuring the impact and effectiveness of your communications efforts, how do you know you’re on the right track ?
Few too organizations do this – potentially costing thousands of dollars in employee time and misdirected communications funding.
Pause and Evaluate
A communications audit doesn’t need to be an overwhelming or time consuming process. Rather it can be scaled to meet the needs of your organization and resources available.
Whether you work in a company with 10 or 10,000 employees, a communications audit follows the same basic process. The only difference would be the scale of the audit and resources assigned.
Six Step Process
- What are you auditing? Are you evaluating one specific campaign (annual winter sale or flu shot campaign)? Or a larger scope (how your organization engages with the media or the communications processes of a specific department in a set timeframe)?
- Get consensus. Don’t just run off on your own, do the audit, present it – only to find out management felt your focus area didn’t require an evaluation, another area needed more urgent attention. I’m a big fan of doing a workshop to get clarity on what is being audited (drilling down as specifically as possible), who will be involved in the audit, how it will be conducted and the reporting out process.
- Know your organization. What are its vision, mission and values? Strategic priorities? Corporate identity? Brand voice? Lay these out in front of you so you can determine if they are reflected in the communications materials (or if they are through backs to the 1980s).
- Establishment measure. How are you monitoring performance and measuring communications against? Looking at the flu shot campaign – how many people got the shot this year vs. previous years. Numbers per location, employment group, intranet post clicks. You need to figure out what can be measured in hard data and what can be measured through stories (how people feel, level of engagement).
- Select your tools. There are many ways to gather input. These include focus groups, surveys, interviews, brand critique (dumping a bunch of communications materials on the table and seeing if there’s a common look and feel) and more. You don’t have to use all of them, just pick the tools that work best for you.
- Report out. Summarizing how important communications is to the organizations. Identifying areas of strength (start with positive), areas of growth and areas that just aren’t working. Prioritize recommendations from the audit, identifying how best to use this information to strengthen communications processes.
If you find this all a little overwhelming, check out my How to Conduct a Communications Audit package which includes step-by-step instructions, a training video as well as sample interview, focus group and survey questions (tried and tested in communications audit) to help you through this process.
So what is stopping you from taking the time to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of communications processes and deliverables in your organization? How could you use the learnings to save time and money or redirect existing resources?
If you have any questions, send me an email. I’d be happy to help you figure out how a communications audit can be your new best friend.