How to review your communications

A photo of an old-fashioned typewriter with a piece of paper coming out of the top with the word review typed across it

Communications teams work hard to ensure that all their audiences are kept informed and involved in their work. And in challenging times, getting communication right has become an even higher priority for many organisations.

This means that there has been an increasing emphasis on developing clarity about the outcomes they want to see from their comms. Teams are setting clearer strategic objectives and giving thought to what they would like their audiences to think, feel and/or do.

But what if you’re not sure whether your communication methods are hitting the spot? Or you know that they’re not? There is no shame in recognising that things aren’t working; after the last few years and in the current climate, even previous best practice may no longer be what is needed.

Now might be the time to take a (quick, if necessary) look at what’s going on and make a plan for improvements.

Carry out a communications review

By looking at what’s happening with your communications channels and listening to how people feel about your messages, you can develop a clear action plan of next steps that fit your desired outcomes.

If you want to gain a better understanding of what’s happening comms-wise at your organisation, here are the 3 stages I recommend for a review:

1. Listen

Talk to your audiences about their experiences of your communication and really listen to what they say.

Use a set of standard questions or topics as conversation starters, but be prepared to explore other areas of interest that arise. Sometimes it is these unexpected avenues that provide the best insights.

You can also use surveys and analysis of feedback or social media responses to find out what people think.

2. Look

Take a good look at your current channels and tools and their level of effectiveness.

It’s important to understand what messages your channels are conveying, who is using them, how accessible they are and how engaging the content is.

You can also ‘map’ them against your communication objectives, to see whether you have a mix of channels that is meeting all your goals. If you don’t, a map will help you identify where the gaps are and whether there is an option to adapt existing channels to meet the objectives.

3. Learn

Identify themes in the feedback, pinpoint priorities and put together a report with clear actions to take.

You can put these actions into your communications strategy and plan. The review will also provide data and clarity, either for yourself or to have conversations with others in your organisation about communication improvement.

How will this help?

Once you analyse all the feedback from your review, you will highly likely find clear themes emerging. You can use these to inform your next steps.

For example, it is only when you look at a wide-ranging body of input that you realise that the people who want to understand your services better are not isolated voices. This gives strategic weight to the need to provide easier-to-understand information.

With these insights, you can identify clear options and list the pros and cons of each one. If you need senior leaders’ sign-off for your way forward, these strategic and actionable steps will help them see what needs to be approved.

If you would like an independent person to carry out an audit for you, please do get in touch to discuss how I can help. I can carry out full-scale audits, conduct a couple of conversations to give you a flavour or coach you through the process so you can do it yourself.

Until next time

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

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