Are your communications hitting the mark? Not sure? Maybe it’s time for a communications audit. A communications audit provides an objective picture of what’s actually happening in your organization, rather than what you think is happening. It helps you see what’s working and what’s not while exposing areas that need improvement. Here are three common signs it might be time to consider one.

3 SIGNS IT’S TIME FOR A COMMUNICATIONS AUDIT

  1. Your goals and objectives aren’t clear. The communications team is often tasked with everything from generating awareness and website traffic to building donor relationships and social media followings. However, without concrete goals and objectives in place, it’s impossible to move the needle for your organization. An audit will help clarify your target audiences and establish clear, measurable objectives to help achieve marketing and communications goals.
  2. You’re not reaching your goals. Even if you have clear and concrete goals, sometimes your strategies and tactics miss the mark. A marketing audit will help assess why you’re not reaching your goals. It could be anything from unclear messaging and utilizing misguided tactics to targeting the wrong audience altogether.
  3. You don’t know what’s working and what’s not. Program participation, website traffic and donations are increasing, so something must be working; you’re just not sure what it is. An audit will assess the performance of your communication tactics across various channels and audiences to determine what’s effective so you can focus more on what’s working and change what’s not.

SO, WHAT EXACTLY IS A COMMUNICATIONS AUDIT?

An audit is a comprehensive evaluation of an organization’s ability to effectively communicate with its key constituencies. An audit typically aims to:

  • Assess communications related to attracting program participants and/or new donors
  • Analyze the competitive landscape
  • Identify strategies, tactics and messaging tailored to target audiences
  • Help determine clear, concrete communications goals and metrics for success
  • Recommend a strategic path forward

A communications audit strengthens relationships within your organization and helps build trust and commitment among employees. It also assists in determining the most effective ways to reach out to the public in order to achieve your organization’s goals. Our audit process involves three main steps.

WHAT ARE THE STEPS?

Discovery

The focus of the discovery process is research and data collection. We take a deep dive into your organization and review available baseline information, including the current vision, mission and values statements, business and strategic planning documents and existing target audience data. We gather and catalogue existing communications materials, tactics, tools, etc., and define the intended audience, purpose and call to action for each. We also assess the competitive landscape and conduct primary research through interviews, focus groups and surveys.

Evaluation

The evaluation process involves distilling and assessing the collected data to identify patterns and key insights. We evaluate items individually (to define the intended audience, purpose, call to action/desired action and effectiveness) and collectively (to provide context, assess cohesiveness and identify any gaps or redundancies).

Recommendations

Based on the data evaluation, we identify opportunities for improvement in areas of strategy, messaging, delivery, etc., and prioritize what to keep, discontinue, revise or add in terms of what will best support your strategic goals.

Checklist: Baseline Materials to Gather and Itemize

Use a checklist to help you gather materials.

  • Vision, Mission, Values Statements
  • Business Plan
  • Strategic Plan
  • Communications Plan
  • Audience(s) Descriptions
  • Website and/or Blog
  • Social Media Plan/Presence
  • Stationery Suite
  • Newsletters (Print and/or Email)
  • Brochures, Flyers or Postcards
  • Advertisements
  • Presentations or Webinars
  • Signs or Banners
  • Annual Reports
  • Fundraising Appeals/Campaigns
  • Other Campaigns
  • Grants
  • Media Kit/Press Releases
  • Videography and Photography
  • Other Materials

Ready to get started?

There's no time like the present.

If you’re planning next year’s budget or thinking about investing in a new program or pursuing a new target audience, consider conducting a communications audit first, to assess which tools are working well or identify the areas you could improve. We work exclusively with nonprofits, and we’ve guided many of our clients through the audit process. If you have any questions about how to get started or need any help along the way, give us a call.

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