Not so long ago, the New York utility Con Edison pleaded “very guilty” to inundating people with emails—a couple hundred a year—thereby overwhelming the channel.
HR was filling up inboxes, and the company shared every press release with its staff via email. Communicators took a hard look at all this and said, “Whoa. People don’t want this,” says Ann Cameron, director of creative services.
So, 2½ years ago the company launched what Cameron calls “a communications quest, recognizing that we’re all about output and less about outcome.” The process includes a top-to-bottom communications audit.
Auditing your channels, goals, and strategies may be a daunting task, but the payoff can be significant, according to a free guide from Newsweaver and Ragan Communications.
“Auditing Your Internal Communications” offers advice for launching a deep review, a process that reveals strengths and opens your eyes to time-draining tasks that provide meager results. Although some might find it daunting, an audit provides the kind of data and suggestions that you need in order to reach your employees.
“Remember, you’re not paying for somebody to tell you everything that’s wrong,” says Karen Scates, marketing and PR manager at GinzaMetrics. “You’re paying for the recommendations and how to fix it. You’re paying for additional knowledge that you couldn’t get from printing it out yourself.”
Among the areas discussed:
- Who does the audit? Should you bring in a consultant, or is it possible to audit yourself? Some experts say auditing one’s own company makes no more sense than auditing your own taxes. Others insist you can conduct your own.
- Cost and time. What kind of a commitment is an audit, both in time and money?
- Laying the groundwork. How do you prepare for the audit and set your goals?
- Who’s in on the planning meeting? Learn which stakeholders should be invited so they can determine what they are looking for in communications.
- How to interview senior leaders. Is your chief executive hard to catch? Be persistent-and ask the right questions.
- Surveying your workforce. Don’t torpedo your audit with useless questions. Find out how to conduct a survey that provides valuable data.
- The channel review. Tips for conducting this top-to-bottom inventory of your means of communication, be it the intranet, print publications or email.
From asking the right survey questions to tips for reviewing your channels, the guide will get you started on that audit. Whether you bring in a consultant or do it yourself, the guide will help you come up with a document full of usable information that will re-launch your communications.
Though an audit clearly aids communicators, it can also affect decisions at a much higher level. Just ask Con Edison’s Cameron.
“From a very senior level, what are the priorities?” Cameron says. “How do we figure out what is strategic? What do we need to do? What aligns with the basic mission? … What’s the bigger picture? What are we trying to accomplish?”
Learn how to audit your organization.