Putting the Zip in Your Communications

A media audit can be a cost-effective way to see whether you are reaching your target audience with key messages that have a successful call to action.A media audit is an excellent way to see whether your media coverage conveys your key messages — and whether your communications match up to your strategic objectives.

This simple form of research can yield invaluable insight into the effectiveness of your communications and how they can be improved.

It is common nowadays for organizations to conduct social media audits. Nothing wrong with that, but too often a social media audit misses surveying the broader impact of all communications, ensuring they reinforce, not confuse, your messaging.

A comprehensive media audit will examine both internal and external communications, talking to employees, customers, stakeholders and the media. What you learn from these focused conversations can be lined up against objectives such as key messages, target audiences and successful calls to action. Did you actually send the messages you intended? Did those messages reach your target audience via the tactics and channels you chose? Did employees, customers and stakeholders respond? Did the media find you believable?

Even highly successful communications programs can benefit from a media audit, which can illuminate ideas to freshen your message and leverage new channels. For example, an award-winning communications program designed as recently as three years may not have integrated Pinterest, Instagram or Cinemagram into its arsenal.

A practical value of media audits, which senior managers appreciate, is information that can be used to allocate always-scarce communications resources. You may discover it pays richer dividends to strengthen the content on your website and spend less time on Twitter. Or maybe your networking on LinkedIn can be expanded through more intensive blogging.

Engagement is a critical element in marketing communications, so it should be a central area of study in a media audit. You might be reaching your desired audience, but not engaging them. Experienced PR professionals who conduct media audits can pinpoint how your communications fall short, as well as how to perk them up.

Best of all, media audits don't cost an arm and leg to conduct. They can produce tangible, actionable, cost-effective recommendations that can put the zip back into your communications.