The Art of Listening: What is a PR and communications audit and when might you need one?

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The world of PR and communications is a dynamic one. With the rapid evolution of digital channels and the ever-changing landscape of audience expectations, how can organisations ensure they are effectively engaging with the people that matter? How do you know when you are communicating your mission and values in a way that resonates, or that your messages are hitting the mark?

Enter the PR and communications audit…

What is a PR and communications audit?

At its core, a PR and communications audit is a comprehensive review and analysis of an organisation’s communications practices. It’s akin to a thorough health MOT, but for your organisation’s communications efforts – it detects whether your communications strategy is aligned, effective, and resonating with your intended audience.

When might an organisation need or want one?

Organisations often perform audits during times of change, or when they want to rejuvenate their communications strategy.

Ask yourself:

Is our message clear and consistent across all channels?

Are our stakeholders engaged and responsive?

Do we truly understand our audience’s perceptions and expectations?

If there’s even a hint of uncertainty in answering these introspective questions, it might be time for an audit.

Internal and external communications audits

There are two main types of audit: internal and external.

Internal audits focus on the effectiveness of communication within the organisation. They might answer questions like:

Are employees engaged with the company’s mission?

Do staff feel involved and heard within the organisation?

This information is critical fuel to your internal communications strategy – a misaligned approach risks negatively impacting employee morale, productivity and staff retention – so getting it right pays dividends in spades.

External audits, on the other hand, assess how effectively the organisation communicates with the outside world and how the outside world perceives your brand, product or service. This could involve gathering stakeholder feedback from journalists or clients, reviewing the results of outputs such as press releases and marketing content, and analysing social media engagement.

The advantage? The first step to improvement is measurement. Once you have a clearer understanding of where you stand in your market you can develop targeted plans to build stronger stakeholder relationships and improve your brand perception.

Benchmarking: how do you measure up?

One of the unsung benefits of a communications audit is the opportunity to benchmark your organisation against competitors. The temptation of marketers to use phrases like ‘first, biggest, best, leading’ can get you into hot water if you don’t know for sure that this claim genuinely applies. An audit can be both a reality check and a motivator.

It’s not about imitation, but inspiration…

Are there best practices in the industry that you are missing out on? Or perhaps there are areas where you genuinely are leading, and those strengths can be further amplified with confidence and authenticity which will resonate with your audiences.

Shaping the audit around your mission and values

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to PR and communication audits that works for every organisation. At Analogy, we shape and tailor audits to reflect each client’s ethos, and their own unique set of values, mission and vision.

For example, if sustainability is a core value, how well is this being communicated? In your PR and marketing, your recruitment and staff development, your product or service profile, for instance?

If community is at the heart of your mission, are your community engagement efforts reaching the right people? Are they resonating? Are they sparking two-way conversation or are you just broadcasting?

Laying the foundation

What if your organisation does not yet have a set of values, mission and vision?

For organisations on the threshold of defining, or evolving, their identity, a communications audit can serve as a pivotal first step. It’s essential to understand the current narrative landscape.

How do your stakeholders perceive you?

What are the existing communication gaps?

What values resonate with your external audiences and employees?

A thorough audit can unearth these insights, offering a clear picture of your organisation’s strengths, challenges and opportunities, as well as benchmarking them against industry peers and competitors, to ensure you can create a set of values, mission and vision that feel authentic, liveable and inspiring.

More than a diagnostic tool

A thoughtful, timely and focused PR and communications audit is a brilliant strategic instrument that can guide, refine and elevate not just your communications efforts but your whole organisation’s strategy and development.

Especially at times of change and uncertainty, (Brexit, pandemic and digital transformation, anyone?) listening, learning and communicating with clarity and purpose is ever more crucial.

Are you ready to take the pulse of your organisation’s communications?

To talk to the Analogy team about arranging a PR and communications audit contact us.

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