Time for a Communications Audit?
Given that it is tax season in the U.S., I use the word audit advisedly. But communications is a year-round event so, unlike an IRS audit, it is never a bad time for a communications audit. In fact, organizations should always be thinking of new and better ways to get their messages out to the public – particularly key prospects and influencers.
The questions you have about your communications strategy are likely the same ones asked by most executives: What is working? What is not? Are we targeting the right audience? Does our branding make sense and speak to our strengths? How do we compare to the competition? A communications audit helps answer these questions by evaluating the elements of your strategy to uncover both the positives and the negatives. An effective communications audit will consider:
- The strengths and weaknesses of your current strategy
- How your messages appear to targeted audiences such as reporters, prospects, clients, employees and other stakeholders
- What elements need to be added, enhanced, changed or even eliminated?
- Are you missing out on key opportunities?
- Do your communications support the overall strategic plan for your organization
- What would make your strategy more effective?
Uncovering the strengths and weaknesses of your program lets you determine the most efficient use of resources and the future direction of your efforts. In this way, an audit is both an evaluation and a roadmap.
Usually, an audit will start with a phone call or in-person visit with a communications consultant to discuss your strategy and ultimate goals. The consultant will then review the elements of your strategy and evaluate their success. A written report will be presented to you that measures and grades each element of your strategy. The best audits will also include a roadmap for your revised strategy as well as Key Performance Indicators to achieve. The consultant will then meet with you to go over each item to ensure clarity about the findings.
So what should a communications audit cover? That is up to the organization, but it can include any or all of the following:
- PR and media coverage
- Marketing (white papers, case studies, collateral, webinars)
- Social media
- Internal communications
- Presentations and speeches
Communications are vital to the success of any organization. But technology and trends change at a moment’s notice in this sector. For example, did you even know what Twitter was 4-5 years ago? Remember when print ads were the main element of an advertising campaign? When did press releases stop being the best way to get media coverage?
It pays to evaluate your strategy every couple of years at least. An audit is a quick and simple way to ensure your team is on the path to success and doing what is necessary in today’s crowded communications environment.
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