Direct communications are the most important avenue to learn about what’s happening in schools. Communications audits can reveal whether your communications strategies and tools are clicking.
“If school districts don’t communicate effectively, others will fill the vacuum of describing what’s happening – and you may not like what they say,” says CFM Research Partner Tom Eiland, who presented the value of communications audits to the annual conference of the Washington Schools Public Relations Association on April 29 in Leavenworth, Wash.
David Beil, communications director for the Central Kitsap School District, provided specific before and after examples of e-letters, social media and the district’s website following a CFM-led communications audit. Beil said post-audit communications relied on stronger imagery, less text, a sharper audience focus and more links.
The audit was invaluable, he said, in convincing school administrators why changes were needed and that additional resources were warranted.
Audits involve an inventory of print and digital communications, a battery of research and an analysis of actual communications, Eiland explained.
Results from a communications audit can shape a communications plan, clarify who manages communications, prioritize audiences and organize communications tools, he said. “You can make decisions based on data, not hunches,” Eiland indicated. “You can refresh or reboot websites, e-letters and intranets with greater confidence they will deliver more value for the people you need to reach. They also can help earn the resources you need for success."
Beil and Eiland emphasized communications audits identify how “people communicate and where they get information,” as well as “what information people want and need.”
“This is a disciplined approach to decide what communications tools work or how they can be made to work better,” Eiland said. “It is also a way to measure actual results."