Communication audit

9 February 2024
Reading time 4 minuty

A communications audit is a multi-channel diagnostic assessment of the past effectiveness of a company’s corporate communications. The audit also aims to identify the information needs of stakeholders, during the audit the selection of channels for communication is also checked, and effectiveness is assessed.

This analysis provides specialists, formulating future strategy, with data on the flow of information between the organization and target groups, reveals “communication gaps”, mistakes made and sources of misunderstanding. This knowledge allows better preparation of messages, then matching them to different channels. During the audit, holistic feedback (feedback) is collected on past communication activities. At its conclusion, numerous conclusions and recommendations are made to the various departments/specialists in the organization. The level of “detail” and “depth” of the audit determines the time it takes. It does not have to involve outsourcing expensive studies to external institutes. Below are presented selected elements of a communications audit that can be applied without having high budgets or resources for research.

Internal analysis – Gathering valuable information about the organization, its strengths and weaknesses from current employees, often people who are on the “front line” and therefore familiar with customer needs and requirements. Internal analysis can concern communication and its effectiveness (described later in the section), the extent to which employees understand the messages, what image they have of the company in their heads, but also purely operational elements. An example of this is Virgin’s handling of business customers, where Customer Experience Management (CEM)[1] was being refined. The Virgin airline took a close look at the experience of business class travelers. It found that the service it provides (e.g., a flight from London to New York) is only one part of the recipient’s broader experience of travel. In turn, the entire experience consists of buying a ticket, getting to the airport, the check-in procedure, passing through security gates (often in a long queue), the meticulous inspection, boarding the plane, flying, and finally landing and checking in at the destination airport. It turned out that the least stressful thing for passengers was the flight itself, and if they were dissatisfied with the service offered by Virgin, it was mainly because of…long queues for passport check-in. The airline had no control over the speed of immigration officers, but passengers didn’t mind judging its service by the experience at the passport window. Virgin, as part of an internal audit, realized in time that the “experience path” of its customers was longer than the flight itself, and decided to take care of business passengers. To this end, it designed a stress-free and fast passage through passport check-in for its customers; today they no longer have to stand in line. This has caused them to rate the airline’s services higher, although the quality of the flight itself has remained unchanged. Virgin Atlantic Airlines has simply taken away British Airways’ primacy in carrying business class passengers on routes across the Atlantic.[2]

Audyt komunikacji

If the internal audit is centered around purely communication issues, it may address such elements as:

  • Definition and description of management style in the organization;
  • Analysis of information flows in the organization: vertically (bottom-up), horizontally (between departments);
  • Analysis of the internal communication tools and channels used so far, both formal and informal;
  • Assessment of communication standards in place in the organization, their identification, showing areas for improvement;
  • Analysis of the level of knowledge and satisfaction of employees with the quantity and quality of content received from direct and indirect superiors;
  • Analysis of the reliability of information provided in internal communication;
  • Analysis of the company’s internal procedures affecting the effectiveness of internal communication.

Media analysis (content) – is the activity of checking the image that is presented about our brand in the media. According to pre-established criteria, one must watch, read or listen to media materials and describe them. At least a dozen different criteria are taken into account. First, it comes down to how often our brand is presented in which type of media. We can still analyze individual publications in terms of:

  • Date when the material was published;
  • Medium (title, reach, specialty, circulation, listenership, type of medium);
  • Author of the text (name, position, specialization);
  • Overtones criterion (positive, neutral, negative reaction)…;
  • Whether the material was accompanied by a photo of the product;
  • The length of the material, what area of the press material was devoted to our company, whether it was, for example, 20-50% of the area of the article in question;
  • The context in which the company is quoted;
  • Whether the statement of a representative of the company (expert, ceo) is included?
  • The criterion of reach (reach) – can be defined in pr as the combined circulation figures of the titles (e.g., number of copies instead of number of readers) in which the clippings appeared, multiplied by the number of articles from each title;
  • Impressions (impressions) criterion – the combined circulation of each title in which the clippings appeared, multiplied by the number of articles from each title;
  • Opportunity to see (ots) criterion – the combined readership/viewership numbers, in materials in which the clipping appeared, multiplied by the number of articles/clippings in each title;
  • Readership criterion – total number of people, estimated readers[3].
[1] Wheeler J., Managing the Customer Experienceturning customers into advocates, Hardcover, 2002
[2] [dostęp: 30.08.2017]
[3] Anna Miotk, Badania w Public Relations, Warszawa 2012, s. 93;

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