HPPR404 Unit 4


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Public Relations Research and Evaluation | Unit 4

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HPPR404 Unit 4

  1. 1. HPPR404 Research and Evaluation Sherrell Steele Communication Audits
  2. 2. Objectives <ul><li>What is a communications audit? </li></ul><ul><li>Why and when to conduct an audit </li></ul><ul><li>How to conduct a communications audit </li></ul><ul><li>The nine phases of an audit </li></ul>
  3. 3. Communications audits <ul><li>Definition: A complete analysis of an organization’ communications, designed to “take a picture” of communication needs, policies, practices and capabilities and to uncover information to make informed, economical decisions about future communications objectives. (Cutlip, Centre, Bloom) </li></ul>
  4. 4. Communications audits <ul><li>Are a systematic, rational exploration of why, how and when an organization communicates with one or more of its target audiences. </li></ul><ul><li>Are comprehensive. Involve multiple research methods to measure the effectiveness of both internal and external communications. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Why conduct an audit? <ul><li>To assess the effectiveness of organizational communications </li></ul><ul><li>To evaluate the relevance and usefulness of various communications channels </li></ul><ul><li>To assess if publics received, understood and acted upon key messages </li></ul><ul><li>It is an important step of developing a public relations plan (Where are we now?) </li></ul>
  6. 6. Audit components <ul><li>Qualitative research </li></ul><ul><li>Quantitative research </li></ul><ul><li>Synthesis, analysis, reporting </li></ul><ul><li>Recommendations and action planning </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluation/ follow-up </li></ul>
  7. 7. Good timing for audits <ul><li>Change in leadership or management </li></ul><ul><li>New or shifting market conditions </li></ul><ul><li>New or revised regulations, legislation </li></ul><ul><li>Recent mergers or acquisitions </li></ul><ul><li>Organizational restructuring </li></ul><ul><li>New or increased competition </li></ul><ul><li>Poor public image </li></ul><ul><li>Threats to management’s credibility </li></ul><ul><li>Major expansion plans </li></ul>
  8. 8. Bad timing for audits <ul><li>Management vacuum </li></ul><ul><li>Crisis </li></ul><ul><li>Union negotiations </li></ul><ul><li>No management buy-in </li></ul>
  9. 9. Staff v.s. contract communications audits <ul><li>Conducted by internal staff </li></ul><ul><li>Advantage: No/low cost </li></ul><ul><li>Disadvantage: May be perceived as </li></ul><ul><li>biased or defensive. Time-consuming </li></ul><ul><li>Conducted by external contractor </li></ul><ul><li>Advantage: Specialized expertise, </li></ul><ul><li>objective third-party analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Disadvantage: Cost </li></ul>
  10. 10. Phase I – Communication audit <ul><li>Discussions with communications </li></ul><ul><li>staff re. </li></ul><ul><li>Their perceptions of management </li></ul><ul><li>support (or lack of support) for </li></ul><ul><li>communications </li></ul><ul><li>Available resources </li></ul><ul><li>Issues and strengths </li></ul><ul><li>Dysfunctions </li></ul>
  11. 11. Phase II Analysis of existing communications <ul><li>Apply content analysis, Fogg </li></ul><ul><li>readability index and or Flesch </li></ul><ul><li>interest-ability index to </li></ul><ul><li>brochures/minutes/HR/PR records </li></ul><ul><li>employee publications/newsletters </li></ul><ul><li>marketing materials </li></ul><ul><li>Web content </li></ul><ul><li>all other publications </li></ul>
  12. 12. Phase II - Communication analysis <ul><li>Look at messages, design </li></ul><ul><li>techniques (is there a “family” of </li></ul><ul><li>publications?), timeliness, accuracy </li></ul>
  13. 13. Phase III – Management interviews <ul><li>Purpose is to ascertain management’s </li></ul><ul><li>expectations of communications </li></ul><ul><li>perception of the weaknesses and strengths of communications </li></ul><ul><li>views of the critical messages to be conveyed </li></ul><ul><li>views about important issues to be addressed </li></ul><ul><li>views of what are employee’s most important concerns, issues and needs </li></ul>
  14. 14. Phase IV – Employee focus groups <ul><li>Hear employees points of views on what communications are working (not working), and what could work better </li></ul><ul><li>Identify issues </li></ul><ul><li>Identify barriers, drivers and facilitators to effective communications </li></ul><ul><li>Generate solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Clarify at what levels in the organization issues arise </li></ul><ul><li>Explore what changes employees want in communications </li></ul>
  15. 15. Focus groups <ul><li>Choose a trained moderator and appoint a recorder (audio tape the dialogue) </li></ul><ul><li>Protect anonymity </li></ul><ul><li>Do not mix job levels or status levels </li></ul><ul><li>Establish trust, rapport, reduce tension </li></ul><ul><li>Ask non-leading questions </li></ul><ul><li>Start broad and then narrow to specifics </li></ul>
  16. 16. Focus group Qs <ul><li>Strengths and weaknesses of current communication methods and what would be ideal? </li></ul><ul><li>Are they getting enough info? The right info? Bombarded by info? </li></ul><ul><li>Usefulness/quality of info </li></ul><ul><li>Perceptions of leadership </li></ul><ul><li>Changes in the organization </li></ul><ul><li>What do they see as their roles in communication and how can the comm. department help them? </li></ul>
  17. 17. Analysis of focus group data <ul><li>Look for six to eight themes to emerge </li></ul><ul><li>e.g. There is a rift between </li></ul><ul><li>management and employees </li></ul><ul><li>e.g. Managers think they are </li></ul><ul><li>communicating the goals, employees </li></ul><ul><li>Are not getting enough info </li></ul><ul><li>e.g. Management is not credible </li></ul>
  18. 18. Phase V – Questionnaire development <ul><li>The themes and issues uncovered in the focus group will shape the survey Qs </li></ul><ul><li>Use simple, unambiguous terms </li></ul><ul><li>Define terms e.g. “timely” information: does this mean fast dissemination or relevance of information? </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid compound questions </li></ul>
  19. 19. Phase VI – Administer the survey <ul><li>Two ways to administer survey: </li></ul><ul><li>Captive method: Small groups of respondents </li></ul><ul><li>complete the survey then and there </li></ul><ul><li>Advantages: Better response rate, more </li></ul><ul><li>control </li></ul><ul><li>Disadvantage: Difficult to schedule, takes </li></ul><ul><li>more planning and preparation </li></ul><ul><li>Non-captive method: Respondents complete the </li></ul><ul><li>survey on their own time </li></ul><ul><li>Advantage: Doesn’t interfere with work schedules </li></ul><ul><li>Disadvantage: Lower response rates </li></ul>
  20. 20. Encouraging responses <ul><li>Aim for 30% response rate </li></ul><ul><li>To improve response rate: </li></ul><ul><li>Get management endorsement </li></ul><ul><li>Assure confidentiality </li></ul><ul><li>Include clear instructions and a due </li></ul><ul><li>date </li></ul><ul><li>Promise to share results </li></ul><ul><li>Offer incentives </li></ul><ul><li>Recruit ambassadors </li></ul>
  21. 21. Phase VII - Analysis <ul><li>Identify the most meaning results and show differences between groups, geographic locations or departments </li></ul><ul><li>Track changes over time, examine trends and establish communication metrics. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Significant findings <ul><li>Identify strengths (high numbers, ratings) and weaknesses </li></ul><ul><li>Reveal gaps or differences </li></ul><ul><li>Contrast “before” communications and “after” communications </li></ul><ul><li>Compare pilot and control groups </li></ul><ul><li>Note variance between actual and ideal </li></ul>
  23. 23. Phase VIII – Action planning <ul><li>Six steps to transform data into </li></ul><ul><li>action </li></ul><ul><li>Review data </li></ul><ul><li>Identify facilitators and barriers </li></ul><ul><li>Brainstorm actions </li></ul><ul><li>Develop strategic plan with milestones </li></ul><ul><li>Implement the plan </li></ul><ul><li>Measure progress </li></ul>
  24. 24. Phase IX – Report results <ul><li>Write an audit report </li></ul><ul><li>Include description of methodology, </li></ul><ul><li>executive summary, detailed </li></ul><ul><li>findings, recommendations </li></ul><ul><li>Deliver reports to senior </li></ul><ul><li>management then to all employees </li></ul><ul><li>Implement recommendations </li></ul>
  25. 25. Summary and conclusions <ul><li>The communications audit measures strengths and weaknesses of organizational communications </li></ul><ul><li>Timing is a factor </li></ul><ul><li>Nine phases: 1. publication analysis, 2. communication analysis, 3. management interviews, 4. focus groups, 5. questionnaire development, 6. questionnaire administration, 7. analysis, 8. action planning, 9. reporting. </li></ul>