“Oh brother, I can’t, I can’t get through I’ve been trying hard to reach you… I don’t know what to do.”
The band Coldplay was really on to something with that famous line from their song “Talk.”
There is a common misconception that sharing information is equal to communication, but in reality, effective communication is an intricate process that requires engagement and understanding.
People are constantly being flooded with new information and content, so how can you make sure that what you are saying gets heard and understood?
A useful tool your business can utilize is communications audits. Communications audits evaluate the effectiveness of your company’s internal and external communications strategy. Their purpose is to identify any shortcomings or strengths in your strategy and help you build and maintain a consistent and clear vision for your company moving forward. They require extensive research and can require a large investment of time and resources, but the insight they provide can be an invaluable asset.
Some signs that your company may be in need of a communications audit include; drops in sales leads, issues with employee retention or employee satisfaction, or a decline in customers or clients. If you think your organization may be in need of a communications audit here are some key components that can help guide you through the process.
Set the Bounds
In other words, determine what you will be analyzing. Is your focus internal or external communications? What platforms need to be reviewed? Setting the scope for your audit allows for a more detailed and accurate view of the state of your communications strategy.
The size of your business can affect the scope of the audit, larger organizations may have to fragment the audit into smaller areas of focus in order to find solutions for each marketing component. Once you have set the bounds it’s time for step two.
Collect and Analyze Content
This is where the heavy lifting starts. Go back and collect all the content from the past 6-12 months to analyze. Examples of pieces you should be analyzing may include newsletters, blogs, emails, social media posts, videos, advertisements, and media releases.
Go through each piece of communication and ask yourself, did we convey the right information? Did this satisfy its objective or further my organization’s mission? Was the message clear? If not, why and how can we improve this?
The purpose of this step is to help you determine your audience, match your focus to the business goals, identify mistakes and victories, identify possible strategies, recognize growth and evolution, as well as identify platform issues and strengths.
Now that you think you know what your strengths and weakness are, it’s time to find out what they really are. The people on the receiving end of your communications efforts on a regular basis will be the most qualified to review them. Employees, clients, customers, or consultants are all ideal candidates to give objective feedback.
The way you approach collecting this data largely depends on the scope of the audit and your organization, but there are a couple of common methods you can consider. Surveys are a fast way to collect large amounts of data in a short period. They are relatively inexpensive to make and disseminate and can be used to collect information on a broad range of topics.
Another common method of data collection is interviews. This method can be approached in several ways; you can choose to perform formal or informal interviews either one-on-one or in a group setting. Properly conducted interviews often yield better responses than written or close-ended questions. This allows for a deeper understanding of a client’s experience and behaviors.
A Strengths, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat (SWOT) Analysis is a tool that can help you organize your strategy and help you take a proactive approach to your communications. Using the strengths and weaknesses that you identified in the previous steps, analyze the relationships between each category and strategize how you can optimize your strong points, and strategize solutions for any of your weak points.
Being equipped to deal with any potential threats is imperative to an effective communications strategy. If you are having trouble finding or creating a SWOT template of your own, Canva has a free template available.
Create an Action Plan and Execute It
Now that you have everything you need, it’s time to present your team with the new and improved communication strategy. Create a presentation and schedule a meeting with your team to go over and explain the new game plan. Everyone who is involved in your organization’s communications should be aware of the changes in order to maintain a consistent and clear voice.
Remember that not everything can get done in one day. Changes will be implemented over time and you may not see a return on your investment for a few weeks, maybe even months, but the foundations you have laid will set you up for success.
The goal of every communication strategy is to receive engagement and turn a passive observer into an active consumer. Communications audits are a simple and effective way to collect the tools and information you need to make this possible.
Depending on the size of your organization and the scope of your audit, you may require outside help to see the project through. If you feel like your business might be ready to delve into a long-term PR strategy check out our blog “Is Your Business Ready for PR?” Or In the wise words of Mr. Chris Martin, If “Nothing’s really making any sense at all, let’s talk”. Contact us for a free consultation and we’ll set you on the right path, even if it’s not with us.
By: Jocelyn Sandoval
Sammis|Ochoa is San Antonio’s fastest-growing public relations and digital marketing agency. The firm is headquartered in San Antonio and serves clients in Austin, Houston and San Antonio. Email email@example.com or call 210.390.4284 to amp up your PR game!