A Queue for Communications Audits

In Justin Timberlake’s song, Losing My Way, he sings: "Can anybody out there hear me?" And while the song is not about public relations or marketing, the question is essential. Are your target audiences receiving your message in the way you intended? Is your media buy investment delivering a reasonable ROI? Do people remember your key messages?

There is a strategic process to help you answer these questions, evaluate your recent efforts and chart next steps with confidence. The process is called a communications audit, and CFM’s track record includes numerous communications audits in its 20+ year history.

The communications audit provides an opportunity for CFM communications specialists to objectively evaluate the effectiveness of your communications toolkit. After conducting a comprehensive study of your communications efforts, we provide our findings and recommendations for increased effectiveness and efficiency. From that point, we can work with your team to develop next steps.

While the audit process is tailored to each client, there are six key lines of inquiry we recommend for communications audits.

  1. Review of Existing Research. We will evaluate your existing research to make sure your communications plan speaks to research findings.
  2. Communications Plan Review. If you have a communications plan, that’s where we’ll start. Are your goals, objectives, strategies and tactics in order? Are they measurable? Are they crafted on a solid foundation of research findings?
  3. Executive Interviews. We will work with you to develop a representative sample of your key stakeholder audiences and discussion guide, and then schedule one-on-one meetings with a researcher from CFM. Our researchers provide a safe third party for interviewees to talk with, which increases the chances of truthful, candid responses. For example, if you work for a school district, this sample may include parents, board members, teachers and key community members.
  4. Website Evaluation. Your website is your online communications center, and a key place to share your story. We’ll evaluate your site for organization, content, key messages and clear calls to action. We’ll also be on the lookout for information gaps.
  5. Media Audit. Traditional media and in many cases, bloggers, can be key channels for sharing your messages with the public. We’ll evaluate media coverage your organization has received to see if it’s positive, negative or neutral.
  6. Communications Collateral Review. How do you share your messages? Brochures, pamphlets, promotional cards, direct mail, signage, newsletters and e-blasts are all ripe opportunities. We’ll evaluate these types of items for effectiveness.

As social media and online communications continue to play a growing and powerful role in communication and reputation management, we may also recommend a social media audit as part of your communications audit plan. Look for our post next week about the social media audit process.