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.