Why a communications check-up is just what the doctor ordered

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but it does nothing for your communications efforts. Evaluating your organization's communications channels is a little like getting a regular check-up with your physician.

You might be feeling fine with the way things are going. It might be business as usual. But how do you really know unless you talk to your doctor?

Whether it's incorporating more grains and vegetables into your diet or getting more sleep, there are always ways you can improve your overall health. Often, it doesn't even require major overhauls - just small adjustments that can be made incrementally. Well, the same philosophy goes for your corporate communications.

It's always a good idea to take a critical and measured look at what you are putting out to your stakeholders. Communications evolve at an incredibly fast pace. Regularly reviewing how you communicate with your stakeholders, what levels of engagement you're achieving, and how you're consistently representing your brand's identity is critical to success.

Why are communications check-ups important?

This approach is especially important if it feels like you've been doing the same things over and over again for a long time. While it's critical to maintain regularity in your communications updates and channels, it's also important to keep up-to-date with communications trends and look for new ways to reach your audiences. Maintaining an ongoing dialogue and establishing two-way communications channels are essential for communicators today.

Your audiences appreciate (and, in fact, demand) opportunities to engage. Hence, it’s important to offer them channels that resonate, and ones they’ll actually use. For municipalities, these channels help keep a pulse on issues that matter to your residents and communicate important information. Involving them in your decision-making processes through engaging communications (big or small) leads to better overall results for your community.

Diagnosing your communications health

It can be difficult to take a thorough, objective look at your own communications efforts because current processes might be very engrained in your organization's culture. I’m sure you’ve heard lots of people justify the status quo by saying, “Well, this is how we’ve always done things.” Diverging from this established road may seem scary, but it's a step that will bring your communications function to the next level and help your organization succeed in the long term.

Diagnosing your communications health means taking a good, hard look at:

  • The content that is being produced - what is your key message and why should your audiences care?
  • The language you are using - is your message clearly understood?
  • The channels you are utilizing - are you reaching your audiences?
  • Your calls-to-action - are your audiences compelled to act on what you would like them to do?
  • The engagement levels you are achieving - are you providing opportunities and receiving feedback on critical topics?
  • Any current strategies in place - do staff know how to be proactive and conduct successful campaigns, or react properly to different situations?
  • Your success indicators - how do you know your message is impactful?

It's also helpful to take a quick look around the communications landscape of your industry. What are some other organizations doing to spark conversation and deliver their message? This can be as simple as scanning social media or relevant newsletters, reviewing industry news, or just thinking about which ads and information make you perk up and pay extra attention.

By asking these questions, you can better connect with stakeholders and take steps toward:

  • Earning public trust
  • Boosting audience engagement
  • Creating a strong, consistent brand identity
  • Controlling the perception of your organization
  • Ensuring your message is heard
  • Acting on your diagnosis

Making a diagnosis is the first big step in improving a vital function in your organization. Your next step is having a plan to take action. And you don't have to act on everything all at once. Prioritize based on quick wins, capabilities and resources available. Give yourself a realistic timeline to tackle some of your changes and feel proud of every step taken. You are well on your way to improving your external communications' health and well-being.

Need some help in performing a communications check-up for your organization? At eSolutions, our “PR doctors” can give you a diagnosis to act upon. Our PR Insights service is a comprehensive audit of all communications strategies, tools, tactics and channels in your organization. Contact us today to get started!