Why Every Organization Should Do a Communications Audit

The word audit can be a little scary, right? After all, nobody wants to be subject to an IRS audit. But a communications audit is something that’s proactive and can be empowering for your organization.

What exactly is a communications audit? It’s the process of stepping back and looking at the big picture of your communications and marketing materials and identifying where you can improve.

Over time, any small business or nonprofit can end up with a lot of marketing pieces. Maybe a former board member set up your website but it hasn’t really been updated in a few years, or an intern started your social media accounts but they’ve been mostly neglected in recent months. Perhaps your organization puts out regular print newsletters and mails some postcards too.

An audit reviews all of those things and looks at how they align. The first question to answer for a communications audit is whether your team wants to handle it on their own or if it would be better to work with a consultant on the project. Regardless of which path you take, here are the basic steps for a communications audit.

Pull everything together in one place
First, you want to gather everything you so it’s in one place. Grab any print pieces you have, like postcards, newsletters, letterhead, and business cards. If you don’t have a file copy from the original print run, find the digital file on your computer and print one out for reference. Annual report? Print that too, if possible. Then pull all of your digital pieces together on your computer, including social media graphics and content, website screenshots, emails to your email list, etc.

Evaluate the look and feel
If you have a white board or wall space, tape the printed pieces up on the wall so you can easily see them. Have your folder of digital pieces on a large monitor or even a TV or projector screen if possible. What’s consistent? What’s inconsistent? Are you following your logo and brand standards across all pieces?

Review your messages and voice
Is your tone and the message you’re putting out similar? For example, if you have a monthly email that sounds very light-hearted and fun, yet your website text is straightforward and strictly business, how do those feel? Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think about their total experience with your brand.

Identify any gaps
As you look at the full picture of your marketing, is anything missing? Are there gaps in your messaging? Do you have conflicting information on different materials? What questions might still exist for your target audience based on the messages you’re sending to them?

Make a plan to move forward
A communications audit is about pulling everything together, taking a step back, reviewing it, and then deciding how you want to move forward. It’s about identifying your strengths and weaknesses and using that information to improve. Document what you’ve learned from the audit and your top priorities to update materials or clarify your message across channels.

A communications audit isn’t a quick undertaking, but it’s incredibly helpful to evaluate where you are and where you need to be. If you’re planning to do your own audit, block out a couple of hours on several different days to ensure you have adequate time (and brainpower!) to review all of your marketing materials and then make a plan for updates.

If you need help structuring and working through a communications audit, give us a call!

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