Do your clients/customers have the information they need? What is the most effective way to reach your target audiences? What can you do to improve how you communicate your messages?
Before you attempt to advance your PR activities in pursuit of your objectives, you need to assess the value of your communication to date.
Most organisations don’t start their communication plan with a clean sheet – they have already been communicating in an ad hoc way for many years.
A communication audit is a way of finding out exactly what your PR activities have achieved in terms of developing your reputation, raising awareness of your products or services etc. They are also useful for those organisations who wish to ramp up their PR programme and need guidance on the best direction to take, or for those who feel their PR has stagnated and want to know why and what to do about it.
In preparation for drawing together a communication strategy, it is vital to carry out an audit (some prefer the word ‘assessment’, to avoid the association with tax returns) – if you know where you are, you can plan how to get to the next stage.
An effective communication audit will include a series of steps which identify:
- A snapshot of your organisation’s communication strategies, activities and programmes to date
- How past communications were handled
- Key audiences: what they currently know about your business, service, product or organisation
- What your key audiences need and want to know and how they prefer to be reached
- Strengths and weakness in your current communications programmes
- Untapped opportunities for future communications
- An assessment of the effectiveness and credibility of current communication vehicles and media, including publications, website, intranet, blogs, face-to-face communication, and other communication tools
At the end of the audit process, you will have a springboard for developing a targeted communication strategy and a recipe for success.