We all know that the term “audit” is frequently used in the finance and accounting worlds. But did you know that audits also exist in communications?
Recently, we noted on our blog the importance of a communications plan to properly define and steer any communications initiative. An audit is useful before establishing this plan because it allows you to get a current overview of your brand’s communications efforts by shedding light on the strengths and weaknesses. This helps you evaluate the efficiency, the reach and the relevance of your efforts towards your target audiences.
When is it relevant to carry out a communications audit? It is appropriate when important organizational changes are on the horizon:
- A new positioning or an updated brand image
- During reputation management
- During restructuring
- In the event of an important anniversary
- Other major events or milestones
The main steps of a communications audit
1. Evaluating your organization’s image
It is important to survey your target audiences in order to understand their perceptions of your brand as well as their impressions of your means of communication and their impact. Collecting this information can be done with qualitative studies (for example, phone interviews or focus group discussions) or quantitative ones (like an online survey).
Which target audiences should you question? For a complete global overview, it is crucial to look both internally (employees, board of directors) and externally (current clients, partners, etc.).
2. Analyzing your communications tools
You have to equally analyze the format and the content of every communications tool that you use: the elements related to brand identity (like the logo and slogan), the promotional material, the online platforms (website, social media) and media coverage. You cannot let anything escape you – it is a very important step for your audit.
At this moment, you have the opportunity to answer questions like the following: Do these tools help us meet our goals? Have the right messages been conveyed? Did the tools catch the attention of our target audiences? Is the image projected by our communications tools coherent?
It is now time to compile the previously collected data and results in the form of a SWOT analysis.
Being an essential tool in the strategic planning process, the analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats is appropriate to understand the state of your communications in order to establish the means needed to make corrections or to improve the current situation.
On the basis of this analysis, the time has come to formulate conclusions and recommendations that will be used for building the communications plan.
Are you evaluating the possibility or the pertinence of performing a communications audit? It can be a complex process that requires a certain level of expertise in the field. You can call on our experts to guide you through the different steps. We are your advisors!