Any smart comms specialist will have given some thought to doing a communications audit at some point.
A comms audit can tell you a lot about how well you’re doing your job as a professional communicator. For example, it can:
• Give you a sense of what your audience thinks about the stuff you spend your day communicating (and if they’ve even noticed it).
• Help you get a handle on what “channels” you’re using (social media, face-to-face, something else?) and if they’re fit for the job.
• Tell you whether all those carefully crafted “key messages” are actually changing the way your audience buys/thinks/behaves etc (or if you’re simply churning out stuff that’s viewed as so much white noise).
In short, a communications audit tells you if you’re saying the right things to the right people at the right time and in the right way.
All good, reader-focussed stuff, which we at Doris and Bertie applaud wholeheartedly.
But here’s the thing. All this focus on your “audience” is leading you to neglect a vital group of people.
That is, your own team – the very ones who are crucial to your efforts to shape the way your business is perceived (either internally or externally).
When did you last ask them how they feel about the way they’re expected to generate all these pieces of “communication”?
And when did you last measure how all the stuff your team produces gets produced (and not just how it gets distributed and received)?
Here’s what I mean. If your corporate comms team is anything like any of the corporate comms teams I’ve ever worked in (or with), it’s crying out for an audit.
Because I guarantee your people are locked in a production process that’s frustrating, demoralising and downright wasteful of their time and your company’s money.
Yep, they’re spending a large proportion of their time:
• Winning senior management buy-in (instead of being seen as the wise consultants and givers of trusted advice that they are)
• Engaged in a demeaning process of securing approval for their work from people not as smart as them
• Being pulled in the wrong direction – toward serving internal “stakeholders” rather than end customers (i.e., readers)
• Incorporating pointless feedback into their work merely to assuage some inarticulate executive’s ego
• Repeatedly reworking stuff because ego-driven executive x has a different agenda from ego-driven executive y
• Tearing their hair out because yet again someone’s inserted the phrases “leveraging solutions” and “ideating methodologies” into their writing because they think it makes them sound intelligent
It’s bad enough if you’re just managing a team of writers – because at least a writer can often find reasons why her version is better than that of the inarticulate ego-driven executive.
Factor design into the mix and I guarantee at least one member of your team is on the verge of self-harm after hearing some incoherent subjective nonsense like:
• “I just don’t like the colour red” or
• “Now I’ve seen the photos laid out (for a third time), I don’t feel they go together somehow”
And here’s the painful truth. If you manage a team, in all likelihood you’re part of the problem. Because almost every feedback form on every in-house writing course I’ve ever delivered has included something along the lines of this: “My manager needs to go on this course because they’re always ruining my work”.
In my next post, I’ll show you how to be part of the solution instead.
Tell us about your experiences of the writing process – in this short survey (takes less than five minutes).