Conducting a Successful Communication Audit

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Communication audit

“PRworks took a deep dive into our communication practices and materials, and thoroughly gathered perceptions and feedback from our target audience. The result was a comprehensive set of findings and practical recommendations we are drawing from to improve and plan for the future. The perspective and insights PRworks brought to the process were highly valuable to our team.”

David M. Sanko, Executive Director, PSATS

Have you wondered if your organization’s communication is effective? If it is achieving your goals? A communication audit can answer those questions.

A communication audit entails a comprehensive review of your organization’s communications, and feedback from your stakeholders, to determine what’s working, what isn’t working and where improvements can be made.

Communication audits can seem daunting, but here we break it down into five manageable steps:

Step 1: Determine scope

First, identify the audience your communication audit will focus on. Is the audience your employees? Customers? Members? Other stakeholders? Then drill down further to clarify segments. For example, all customers or a subset based on geography, demographics, purchase behavior or other factors?

Next, determine all the departments within your organization that produce communications for this audience. This likely will include marketing and communications, but also may include human resources, sales, accounting, technology and other functional areas.

Also take into account all the communication methods and channels your audit will assess including web, email, social media, video, print – even signage and displays.

Step 2: Collect samples and analyze

Once you’ve arrived at your scope, gather communication samples from all relevant departments, in all relevant formats, from the past 6-12 months. Develop a spreadsheet detailing each of the communications and the criteria on which you are assessing them.

Evaluation criteria may include brand alignment, content quality, calls to action, format, presentation, delivery method and frequency.

As you analyze each communication against the criteria, note additional observations and questions as you go. This is the time to be objectively critical. This is the time to measure against best practices. Rather than take what you see at face value, dig deep to envision what can be better and how.

 Step 3: Collect audience feedback

Augment your analysis of communication materials with collection of feedback directly from your target audience – because to fully understand if your communication is effective, you need to ask the people who receive it!

You can gather audience feedback via focus groups, surveys or a combination of these methods. When developing survey instruments, strike a balance between your audience’s time, attention span and the data you wish to collect. (In other words, don’t make them excessively long.)

To encourage honest feedback – and discourage courtesy bias – be sure to honor the privacy of your audience. Employing an independent firm is a customary and effective way to provide your audience with assurance that they will remain anonymous and that their responses will remain confidential.

Step 4: Conduct a SWOT

With your material analysis complete and audience feedback collected, now it’s time to pull all your data together and perform a SWOT analysis.

Conducting a SWOT analysis will identify strengths to focus on, weaknesses to minimize, opportunities to consider and threats to eliminate.

Organize your answers to these questions in a quadrant:

  • Strength: What communication methods worked well?
  • Weakness: What communication methods didn’t work well and need to be changed?
  • Opportunity: What opportunities could you leverage to improve communications?
  • Threat: Is anything threatening your company’s communication with your target audience?
Step 5: Plan

At the conclusion of your full analysis, document a set of recommendations for your organization’s communications. Categorize the recommendations into 1) those your organization can implement relatively quickly with low impact to resources and budget, and 2) those that will require effort over time and may involve additional resources and funding.

It’s likely that not all changes will be able to be made overnight, so be realistic. Build a plan of action in achievable phases with milestone goals over time (ex: 6, 12, 18 months).

An Audit at Work

The Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS), which represents 1,454 townships of the second class in Pennsylvania, continually evaluates ways to improve services and the value of membership. Among the areas identified by leadership for potential enhancement was member communication. That’s when PSATS turned to PRworks.

PSATS engaged PRworks to conduct a communications audit to assess the association’s member communications. We employed the following methods to conduct the audit:

  • Discovery session with internal stakeholders
  • Analysis of current communications
  • External stakeholder interviews
  • Member online survey

The audit resulted in a comprehensive set of top-level recommendations, as well as a drill-down of qualitative and quantitative insights drawn from each of the audit research methods.

With the findings and recommendations in hand, PSATS moved to the planning phase with anticipation of improving communications to better meet the expectations of present and future township leaders.

Need Help?

Contact us today to learn how PRworks can facilitate a communication audit for your organization.

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