How to do a communications audit

posted by Scott McKenzie

My colleague Naomi Goodman and I have noticed a lot of conversation on LinkedIn and the other forums recently discussing internal communication audits, ways to conduct them and how you can gauge effectiveness.

 We’ve done a good few audits for our clients here at H&K, so we thought we should share some thoughts on our methodology; as well as why getting it right is beneficial for an organisation.

 Our five step methodology

 1.       Planning – the inital planning phase is critical in confirming scope and objectives, review existing data and assessing audiences, channels and messages. From this you’ll be able to understand the context, ask the right questions and ultimately, run a successful audit.

2.       Interviews – To get a deeper understanding of the key issues we would recommend conducting some stakeholder interviews. This helps you understand the business priorities and further refine the objectives for the audit. We would suggest keeping the interviews quite structured (with the ability to go off-piste as required). This would involve creating an interview guide to ensure consistent facilitation of the interviews.

3.    Survey – Once you have analysed the results of steps 1 and 2 you should design and conduct a survey, test it and then launch it. Your analysis should help you to get a snapshot of collective views and have statistically robust data. It should also act as a baseline set of results for future surveys.

4.       Focus groups – The quantitatve data from the survey will usually identify a few key trends or issues which warrant further research. We would usually suggest holding some focus groups to understand these key issues a bit more, and/or to test some possible solutions to those issues. We certainly regard Focus groups as a great opportunity to test new ideas.

5.       Recommendations – The final audit report includes the findings from the insight work in steps 2-4 as well as some detailed recommendations for further action. The report would usually include a high-level internal communications strategy with a range of recommended actions and tactics.

 So, conducting a successful audit isn’t a quick task. But is it worth it?

 In one word. Yes.

 If your organisation is going to be successful, employees need to understand what is expected of them and the role they play in achieving the company’s goals.  They need to feel they are playing a meaningful role in your organisation and its future.

 Internal communications can genuinely help you engage your people. But only if the tools and conversations you use to communicate are effective.

An audit is therefore a critical process for listening to what employees need from you, and then just as crucially giving you the evidence you need to respond to their needs.

If you would like to hear more about our experience of communications audits please email me at scott.mckenzie@hillandknowlton.com

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