Don’t Fear It—See It as a Tool of Empowerment
Don’t be threatened by the idea of an internal communications audit. It’s not something that will undermine the great job you are already doing as a communications professional. You do a communications audit because it will showcase and help you prioritize the great work you are doing and to help give you more time for the projects you want to focus. If you are working on a branding or rebranding initiative, this is the perfect time to embark on a communications audit and tie the two events together.
Do a communications audit because you are a leader and want to show it—to your team and your boss. This is your chance to do even more—despite what I know are your limited resources and lean staff.
Ready to get started? Read on for communications audit tips, so that you can do your best work yet.
Set some deadlines around when you expect to start and end your communications audit—meaning when will you start it and when will you present your overall findings. Does your mid-year or annual performance review make sense? Should your summary be timed with a business priority such as having it completed before you begin the annual planning or budget process? You may identify projects that need a complete overhaul that warrant a separate timeline, and certain activities that you think can stop may need wind down time.
If you have a team, this is the time to engage them in the overall vision for the audit and let them know they will be a part of the process—and the decisions.
Block time on your calendar to work on the audit. Even if it is just an hour a week or part of the time of your weekly team meetings, dedicating focused time to it will make feel like the priority it needs to be—but not overwhelming.
You have more than you think to get started. Here is a short list of items to start assembling.
• Annual Editorial Calendars
• Communications Plans for specific groups/departments
• Individual Project Plans/Trackers
• Schedule for Compliance and/or Routine/Repeating Messages
• Company Events Calendar
This is where you are going to roll up your sleeves and pull the details on your projects—the brochures, the intranet stories, the postcards, the email messages, etc.
You will want to put together a grid for each project that outlines the following:
• Channels used and effectiveness
• Gap analysis (What could we have done better? What should we try next time? What audiences were reached well? Who wasn’t? How can we be more digital?)
• Writing style (What was it? Did it work? Should it change if the project comes up again?)
• Tone of voice (Was it effective? How should it evolve?)
• Branding and Design (Did it follow the guidelines? How did it fit with other materials? Did it all work as a campaign?)
• Message consistency
• Make a recommendation: Does this project stop? Can the communication be combined with something else? Does it continue in a similar way? Does it need to change significantly?
This is a good place to do a “client” or “stakeholder” review and evaluate your relationship with those you are creating content for and what feedback you may need to share with them to have an even better outcome next time.
Some thought starters:
• Did they clearly articulate their goals and objectives?
• Did they own their subject matter and give you the facts/content you needed?
• Did they give you enough lead time?
• Did they meet the review deadlines?
• Did they take the time to review the results?
What Can You Stop?
The only way you can go further on your priority projects is to stop doing some work. Use the facts to back you. Find ways to combine or streamline messages. Or maybe it just means YOU need to stop doing it—but it’s a great learning opportunity for someone on your team.
Where Do You Need to Go Further?
For campaigns that need a revamp, you’ll need to set aside time separate from your communications audit to evaluate how you will make these projects sing through the channel, voice, tone, branding, design or writing changes and where they fall on the list of priorities. This is a great opportunity to look at the workload of your team and redistribute work so that high-potential team members have stretch opportunities or the visibility they (or you!) need.
Share Your Results and Put Them into Action
I know you know this but before you make a lot of changes run it by whom you need to—your boss, your boss’s boss, etc. Get agreement and have an action plan for going forward for what you will stop, start and continue, and when you will be talking to your stakeholders.
Still need more help? Let us do it for you.
Being an employer of choice means top applicants are eager to work for you, competitors envy your employees, and your most talented workers stay with your company for years and years. Given the competitive job market, combined with the new-normal Baby-Boomer retirements and Millennial job-hopping, this seems like a great item for the top of your New Year’s Resolution list.
So how do you become an employer of choice?
The bad news is that there are a lot of factors outside of your control. Employer-of-Choice drivers include attributes like working in a great location, working for a company with great/prestigious name recognition and/or a number 1 position in their marketplace. But while we can’t all be Google (they get checkmarks for all 3,) the good news is that there are things that you can do to create a culture that elevates your position as an employer of choice. Here are some of them.
Become a Culture of Choice- Create meaningful and personalized employee experiences and rewards. Think about what matters to the people who matter most to your organization. If you don’t know, find out. According the the Jobvite Jobseeker Nation, compensation is more important to established professionals (ages 40-54) than Millennials who greatly value the flexibility to work from home. While you’re at it, start mapping your internal culture fit to the customer experience. Again, if you’re not sure what that is, find out from your Marketing department. When Southwest Airlines committed to a delivering customers to their final destinations with a smile, a joke or a song, they made sure that joke-telling was part of interview process and fun was part of their culture.
Socialize your Talent Brand- Having a clear, articulated talent brand that promotes your culture, employer brand, employer value proposition and talent philosophy (how you manage talent) is only half the job. The other half is TBPR- Talent Branding Public Relations. The average person has 1 to 12 intimate contacts, 150 social contacts and 500 – 1,500 weak ties. That means that an employee population of 100 people could influence 10,000 people on the merits of working for your organization. Make sure that each one of them not only has the information but has contributed their thoughts on what makes your organization their employer of choice. (Don’t wait to read about it on Glass Door.)
Focus On Career Development- A Gallup survey last May revealed that 87% of Millennials said professional development or career growth opportunities were very important to them in a job. The article goes on to say that “their strong desire for development is, perhaps, the greatest differentiator between them and all other generations in the workplace.” In just 3 more years, this high-achieving, highly productive yet untethered generation will make up more than 35% of the US workforce. So becoming an Employer of Choice means making the most of the Millennial’s time, skills and talents.
Become an Authentic Brand- Brands are about trust. Your ability to evoke a singular experience in the hearts and minds of multiple audiences will enable you to truly build awareness, consideration and preference with all your constituents, including employees and potential employees.
The internet has leveled the playing field. Your customers are also vendors, employees and investors. Conversations that used to happen around the water cooler are happening across the internet on sites like Glass Door, Yelp and Amazon. Yet within the organization, the drivers of influence for each of these target groups are often siloes of spin. The myriad of messages are often in competition with one another.
To genuinely be an authentic brand means that you have developed an integrated, values-based messaging approach that is true at the highest level for all audiences and speaks in one voice. An authentic brand represents the ultimate truth and often reshapes how you attract, onboard, engage and retain talent.
Your organization may not be sexy, well-know or a category-killer, but with the highest intentions and a steadfast plan, you can fulfill your goal to achieve Employer of Choice status.
Note: We are compiling a list of Employer Branding Resources. Please add yours here:
So you’ve read my post “Four Signs You’re Ready to Rebrand” and answered “yes” to one or more of the questions. Time to design a new logo, right?
Wrong. The first step in the process, and the most important, is conducting brand research.
Before you can embark on the exciting and sometimes painful process of re-branding, you need to go beyond theory and acquire actionable knowledge- game-changing insights that can steal market share and drive sustainable business results. That requires brand research.
It’s safe to assume that in your personal or professional life, you don’t make important decisions without doing due diligence, so why should your brand deserve anything less?
Don’t drink your own Kool-Aid. Don’t rely on a one-rat lab study. Put together a solid plan incorporating some of these tried and true techniques:
This is most effective when used to validate the findings of your qualitative study. It’s much more objective because well-crafted questions deliver unbiased answers. You can conduct some quantitative research surveys through online tools like SurveyMonkey or Zoomerang. But the trick is getting the right analysis from the data. Make sure that you get a good sample pool by surveying across geography, age, incomes, and skill sets (for employee research).
These are useful in creating corporate mission and purpose statements, launching new products or product extensions, or simply taking research findings to the next stage of development. It provides a structured forum for collective brainstorming (where there are no bad ideas!) and can be augmented with trend-panels and outside thought-leaders. Invite 10-20 of your closest multidisciplinary stakeholders for an off-site retreat and let the brand games begin.
• The first goal is to simply get to truth. How do people really feel about your brand?
• The next goal is align the findings with your company’s mission, vision, and values. If it’s an employer brand, you want to align it with your consumer brand.
• The third goal is to find your niche, your “white space,” where you can deliver something that no one else can. Again, this applies to both internal and external branding.
• Another goal is to look at your “As-Is,” your current situation, and to find what opportunities are available to you. Also, what can you learn from your “wannabe’s”? If you “wannabe” like Starbucks, in what ways can you emulate their successes?
Brand research professionals have more tools available now than ever before. There is no best way to craft the perfect research plan. It’s through careful consideration of objectives, timeline, and budget that a sensible plan emerges. The answers can be painful, and every answer can lead to two more questions, but every question can lead to new opportunities to capture market share in ways never before considered.
That’s why we do it! Let us do it for you.
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