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.
Your focus has changed.
|Image via Concept Genius|
Unique goals and objectives make these questions hard to answer in general terms, but future blog articles will endeavor to add clarity to your quest. In the meantime, if rebranding is on your New Year’s resolution list, get in touch with your friends in BRANDEland.
Jason Ginsburg, Director of Interactive Branding at Brandemix, show how organizations can use Thomas Cook’s philosophy in engaging employees during a re-branding.
To learn how Brandemix can help you with employee engagement and internal communications, visit our website.
The Brand Plan.
The first step in any successful branding or rebranding effort is the creation of the brand plan. The brand plan provides a roadmap for creating, marketing, launching and promoting your brand, and is relevant for both your internal and external activations.
|It’s all right to have your head in the clouds when writing your vision and mission.|
SWOT it Out
A brand plan includes an analysis of your company’s place in the market, broken down into four parts: Strengths – including your expertise, uniqueness, resources, or anything else that gives your company an advantage. Weaknesses – issues that may be holding you back from your potential; what knowledge or capabilities are you missing? Opportunities – such as an emerging customer need that you can meet, a new technology that will change your market, or a reduction in regulations or costs. Threats – problems on the horizon such as a customer need, technology, or law that make the market worse for your company.
You now know where you want to go, how you’ll get there, and your current and future advantages and disadvantages. Now you can create a strategy that will help you get from here to there, using your strengths to take advantage of the opportunities and avoid the obstacles. This means creating a strategy, the large-scale plan for success. Within this are tactics, the individual programs, products, and initiatives that contribute to the strategy. In war, strategy involves which battles you’re going to fight; the tactics are how you fight them. Don’t get them mixed up or you can find yourself wasting resources on a tactic or overlooking the importance of a strategy.
Bring in the Numbers
Visions and missions can be “touchy-feely,” but a brand plan should include numbers. If you’re launching a new product, how many will be in your first shipment? What are your metrics for success – sales, hires, press mentions, social media responses? What’s the minimum ROI that will allow you to move on to the next step? And what’s the budget for each of your tactics? Don’t let your enthusiasm make you neglect the most important numbers – time and money!
|Some brand plans are measured in months; others in hours|
3, 2, 1, Launch!
The plan is in place. Now it’s time to execute. Put that new budget to use and start designing, writing, creating, and activating. After so much discussion and preparation, everyone will be eager for results. Help them out with a quick win, an easily achieved goal that boosts your employees’ confidence and builds momentum for the next round. Quick wins silence doubters and give you something to point to at the first few status meetings and say, “This worked.”
Your brand plan is finished. Guided by your mission statement, you’re implementing your strategy and tactics, making your vision a reality. You’ve made some quick wins, you’re analyzing the metrics, and you’re aware of both the perils and the promise of the future. You’ve put in place a solid foundation for success.
At Brandemix, we specialize in brand planning, brand architecture, brand positioning, and branding initiatives. If you’d like to learn more, contact me. I’d love to share our knowledge with you.