A communication audit is an evaluation of the effectiveness of an organization's communication efforts. These efforts may include a number of different methods and materials, such as advertisements and marketing collateral, websites, internal communications, and shareholder reports. A communication audit will assess the effectiveness of each of these methods. It is often used as a tool to aid in planning or reevaluating a communications plan or strategy.
There are a number of reasons that a company or an organization may decide to undergo a communication audit. It may have determined that its methods of communication are spread too thin. It may feel that basic customer surveys do not provide a comprehensive look at the effectiveness of its communications strategies. The organization may simply wish to evaluate the company message to ensure consistency across mediums, or to reach a new target audience. Whatever the reason, it is important that the organization outline its mission, its values or vision, and its audience prior to the audit so that the effective communication of these items may be adequately assessed.
An organization can perform its own survey, or it may enlist the services of an outside agency to perform the audit. It is important that a communication audit be thorough in its examination of all existing communications strategies and activities. Data may be collected through paper or electronic surveys, focus groups, or interviews; the audit may test products for customer usability. It is also important that the information be gathered from an inclusive range of individuals, including not only company employees, but also shareholders, clients, and customers. Other relevant groups may also be included.
The results of the communication audit are usually presented in the form of a comprehensive report that clearly identifies all data collected, the survey methods used, and the groups surveyed. These results should provide the organization with information that will help to determine what it is doing right and what it is doing wrong. It should identify any loopholes or other missing links in the chain of information that may need to be corrected.
The full communication audit report may provide a better understanding of the way that organizational communications are understood within the company, or their effectiveness in reaching the external target client or audience. It may provide specific examples that illustrate positive or negative experiences related to its methods or its message. Ideally, the audit report will provide concrete strategies for strengthening communication techniques and policies. It may suggest how to better target and customize the organization's message and present it in a useful way. The audit may also propose new ways that communications efforts might be streamlined or simplified in order to cut costs and clarify the organization's message to future audiences.