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Cerkl Broadcast

7 Steps to Conduct a Successful Internal Communications Audit

Learn how to conduct a successful internal communications audit to promote your internal communications strategy. Discover tools, tips, and an invaluable template.
Written by: Penny Swift
how to conduct an internal communications audit
Published: January 8, 2024
Internal Comms Audit Guide

Audit Your Internal Communications

Strategy is an important component of internal communications. Ensure you’re communicating through the right channels at the right frequency with our Internal Communications Channel Audit worksheet.

Internal communication audit research shows that the internal comms audit is not only infrequent and uncommon but also on the decline. This is distressing because there is strong evidence that conducting an internal communication audit is one of the very best ways to stimulate and promote internal communication within organizations.

Public results from Ragan’s 2023 Communications Benchmark Report state that internal audits are on the decline. The report also shows that while 79% of the close to 1,000 communicators worldwide who responded to their 2023 benchmark survey measure the effectiveness of internal and/or external comms, 18% don’t. Furthermore, 26% said they were dissatisfied with the “measure of communications effectiveness.” Only 6% were very satisfied. 

A Forbes article written by Rob Forrester, president of Guardian Agency, lists six of the best practices organizations can use to foster effective internal communications. Top of his list is to:

  1. Conduct an internal communication audit, followed by
  2. Selecting the right technological tools
  3. Ensuring internal communication is concise, clear, and consistent
  4. Crafting the right content when communicating
  5. Request and welcome dialogue, especially feedback
  6. Focus on onboarding, training, and reinforced company culture when you hire new employees 

An internal communications audit is a powerful tool to measure the effectiveness of your organization’s internal communication strategy. But how does it work, and why invest resources in conducting one? 

We’re going to guide you through the key steps and considerations to enable you to conduct a successful internal communications audit. We’ll consider how often you should run an audit, the best tools and resources to use, and the right questions to ask. We’ll also examine the practical side of conducting internal audits, outlining seven steps to success. Then, we’ll share some insider tips and best practices to help you achieve a smooth audit process.

What is an Internal Communications Audit?

An internal communications audit is an extensive evaluation conducted within an organization to assess the efficacy and usefulness of its current communications strategies, channels, and tools. This type of audit systematically collects and analyzes pieces of data like email open rates, anonymous comments on internal messages, and engagement data. This enables internal communicators to understand how information is circulated throughout the organization and how it’s received by the employees and how it affects the workplace experience

More than just an assessment, an internal communication audit offers deep insights into the organizational culture, empowers employees, and encourages active dialogue and meaningful communication.

An outstanding internal communications audit will involve an intensive review of the organization’s internal communications plan. It will evaluate the performance of different tools including the office intranet, employee newsletter, and interactions among various departments and levels within the organization. Commonly, the approach also includes the assessment of various aspects such as employees’ understanding of the organization’s internal communications strategy. The reach and impact of internal emails and the effectiveness of the internal communications team will also be evaluated.

Widely used in larger organizations, an internal communication audit doesn’t only serve as a diagnostic tool to identify any potential communication barriers or gaps. It also assists in building a stronger sense of community, ensuring message consistency, and aligning communications with the company’s overall strategic objectives.

internal communications audit benefits

For this reason, an internal communications audit is an excellent example of taking proactive measures to enhance ongoing internal communications processes and systems.

Why Bother with an Internal Communications Audit?

The results, insights, and revelations obtained from a well-executed internal communications audit can be invaluable. They serve as a basis for internal comms to improve and adapt, keeping the organization’s communication vibrant, engaging, and effective. They can also be used to establish a strategic communication planning process. 

Here are some compelling reasons to consider when conducting an internal communications audit. You will be able to:

Identify Areas for Improvement 

One of the primary reasons to carry out an internal communications audit is to identify areas of weakness or opportunities for improvement. This might include elements including messages not reaching the intended audience, lack of engagement with company announcements, or poor email open rates. In turn, you will be able to use these insights to enhance the company’s internal communication strategy.

Measure Effectiveness

With an internal communications audit, organizations can quantify the success of their communication strategies. Metrics such as response rates to internal communications surveys, employee feedback, or a star rating system can help determine whether the company’s methods of communication are effective.

Determine Employee Engagement

When done the right way, an internal audit allows organizations to gauge the level of employee engagement. They can see who’s reading, responding, and interacting with company communications. This data is extremely valuable in planning future communications efforts.

Ensure Alignment of Communications 

A comprehensive internal communication audit can help ensure all messaging is coherent, consistent, and aligned with the company’s overall objectives. It allows for clear visibility into whether messages from senior leadership truly reflect the company strategy and if they reach all employees effectively.

Moreover, a thorough internal communications audit can lend a strategic edge, providing valuable insights into how employees perceive, interpret, and engage with company communication. It helps take the guesswork out of internal communications, driving improvements based on actual data, as opposed to assumptions or guesswork.

Now that we have looked at the essence of an internal communications audit and why it’s crucial in an organization, the next logical query is how to conduct this audit effectively. For that, we move on to the key considerations to take when preparing for the strategic communication planning process of an internal communications audit.

Key Considerations for Internal Communications Audit

An internal communications audit reveals integral details about how effectively your company communicates internally. Its success revolves around clear planning and, more specifically, careful consideration of certain vital elements. These include the frequency of audits, scope and research methods, audit resources, team composition, and the crafting of effective internal communications audit questions.

How Often Should You Conduct an Internal Communications Audit?

Gauging the frequency of an internal communications audit depends on many factors and the answer varies from company to company. However, it is generally accepted that a full audit should be conducted annually. This will allow your internal communications team to monitor significant changes and modifications over a reasonable period of time. 

In between annual audits, consider conducting mini-audits or pulse checks. This is particularly important after implementing significant changes, launching new internal communications channels, or detecting fluctuations in your engagement data.

How to Determine the Scope and Research Methods

The scope of your internal communications audit should directly correlate with your overall corporate objectives and specific internal communication strategy objectives. When determining the scope of your audit, consider reviewing all existing internal communications software, tools, and channels.

Regarding research methods, a variety of quantitative and qualitative research methods can be employed. Quantitative research, such as analyzing email open rates and responses to internal surveys and polls, offers concrete evidence of performance. Qualitative research, which can include focus groups or anonymous comments, provides a richer context and will allow you to include employee sentiment toward internal communications.

Essential Tools and Resources for Your Audit

Running a comprehensive internal communications audit necessitates the use of superior tools and resources. Using an internal communications audit template as a starting point can help ensure that you cover all the vital elements. Additionally, it makes sense to leverage an internal communications tool or platform that offers in-depth analytics such as email open rates, engagement on internal messages like the employee newsletter, or a star-rating system for different communication types.

Selecting the Right Team for Conducting the Audit

When conducting an audit, it is crucial to involve a small group of individuals who understand your company’s internal communication system and processes. Beyond the internal communications team, consider including representatives from senior leadership and the HR department. These people can bring valuable insights into various aspects of the internal communications process from different organizational perspectives.

Crafting Effective Internal Communications Audit Questions

Excellent internal communications audit questions are indispensable to a successful audit. They should be designed to probe and understand current internal communications performance and employee perception of the same. Ground your questions in your strategic objectives and aim to identify if messaging matches objectives, if the tone is consistent and appropriate, and how well channels and tools are performing.

key considerations for internal communications audit

Conducting a Successful Internal Communications Audit in 7 Steps

A great internal communications audit that is going to be meaningful needs to be systematic and well-planned. Here are seven key steps to ensure a successful audit:

#1 Define Strategic Objectives

The first step involves clearly defining your audit’s strategic outcomes. These objectives will form a kind of road map for your audit and will affect everything from how you structure your questions to the specific communications you review. Ensure your objectives are aligned with your overall internal communications strategy to make your findings actionable and relevant.

#2 Compile an Inventory of Communication Channels and Tools

Compiling a comprehensive inventory of all available internal communication channels and tools is next. This list needs to encompass everything from company-wide emails and intranet updates to team meetings and social platforms. This inventory will enable you to monitor usage patterns, identify redundant tools, and uncover potential gaps in your communications infrastructure.

#3 Evaluate Content Alignment with Objectives

Once the inventory is ready, you’ll need to check that your content aligns with your internal communication plan’s goals. Review several samples from your various channels to ascertain whether they reflect the defined objectives, corporate values, and desired communication tone.

#4 Measure Employee Feedback and Satisfaction

This step involves eliciting employee feedback through methods such as internal communications surveys, in-depth interviews, or suggestion boxes. Ensure that your materials invite and welcome anonymous comments to encourage candid responses when evaluating what works and what needs refinement. Feedback matters more than ever at this important stage.

#5 Assess Message Consistency and Tone

Consistency is key in any internal communications strategy. Measure whether the tone, branding, messaging, and frequency are consistent across all channels. The goal is to ensure that all employees, regardless of their location or seniority, receive the same core message from the company.

#6 Review Accessibility and Inclusivity

An inclusive and accessible internal communications system will address the needs of all employees and departments. Review your tools and channels to ensure they are accessible to employees with disabilities, special needs, and any other differences. It is critical to ensure that your communications are inclusive and respectful of the diverse backgrounds and experiences of every single person in the organization.

#7 Develop and Implement Improvement Strategies

The final stage involves crafting and executing strategies based on your findings. These initiatives should directly address any weaknesses you have identified and build on areas of strength, propelling your internal communication toward greater success.

steps to conduct an internal comms audit

Best Practices and Tips

In an increasingly digital and complex world, an internal communications audit is essential to ensure effective and efficient communication within your organization. Here are some best practices and tips for conducting a great internal communications audit.

Tips for an Impressive Internal Communications Audit

Every organization has its own unique communication dynamics. So, running a successful internal communications audit requires a tailored approach. Below are tips to help make your audit impressive.

Invest in Good Internal Communications Tools
Having robust internal communications software eases the communication flow and data collection necessary for the audit process. Tools like email trackers can help you measure email open rates, which is crucial in assessing internal emails’ effectiveness.

Use a Reliable Internal Communications Audit Template
To streamline the audit process, templates providing a systematic guide on what to evaluate and measure can be very useful. An internal communication audit template structures the process ensuring that no vital point is skipped.

Implement a Diverse Research Strategy
Use a blend of both qualitative and quantitative methods to gather accurate data. This could include surveys to get employee feedback, interviews for in-depth insights, or analysis of metrics like email open rates and engagement data from your internal communications software.

Involve the Right Players
Your internal communications team should lead the audit. But for a holistic view, incorporate a small group of stakeholders from diverse departments. Senior leadership engagement also validates the process.

Utilize Anonymous Channels
To get honest feedback from your employees, consider anonymous comments or surveys. This can help you gather candid insights into your company’s internal communication.

A successful internal communications audit is not a one-off process. It should be continually revised and updated based on the audit reveals to ensure your internal communications plan continually aligns with your ongoing strategic objective.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Internal Communications Audits

Despite the best intentions, many organizations fall into traps that can hamper the effectiveness of an internal communications audit. Here are a few common mistakes to avoid.

Lack of Clear Objectives
Without a clear goal or strategic objectives, an internal communications audit can easily miss its mark. Make sure your audit aligns with the company’s overall internal communication strategy.

Overlooking Various Communications Channels
Your audit should consider all communication channels, including employee newsletters, internal messages, and team meetings. Limiting your audit to only one channel such as internal emails can skew your findings.

Ignoring Feedback
Employee feedback is the cornerstone of an effective audit. Ignoring this could lead to misguided strategies and decisions. Surveys or star ratings on internal comms can be used to gauge feedback.

Poor Analysis of Data
Data-driven decisions enhance communication performance. However, a faulty interpretation of data can lead to ill-informed strategies. It is therefore essential to use standardized tools and metrics that are 100% reliable while analyzing your data.

Rushing the Process
An internal communications audit is a significant endeavor and requires ample time and resources. Rushing the process leads to an incomplete picture of your organization’s internal communication status.

Steering clear of these common pitfalls will significantly improve your internal communication audit’s efficiency, ensuring that you get the most out of the process.

common mistakes in internal communications audits

Cerkl Broadcast Offers an Internal Comms Audit Template

We’ve emphasized the importance of an internal communication audit and stressed the usefulness of using an internal communications audit template to streamline the process. To simplify what is often a daunting process for internal communicators, we have put together this interactive internal communication audit template. This will enable you to gain employee insights and focus on your department’s internal communications strategy.

Between the content you manage via email, intranet, social media, print, and digital signage, it’s good to capture a snapshot of employee experience and look at each channel’s visibility. We all know that employees have individual delivery preferences and consume their content in different ways. Cerkl Broadcast’s omnichannel capability takes care of this.  

If your content output is high but your open and click rates are low, it may be because you’re not hitting the right people at the right time. Could it be your content strategy to make your channels, like your intranet, more engaging? 

What’s Next?

Our audit template will help you and your team identify which channels your employees enjoy the most and which types of content they’re consuming. You will then assess your employee communications and build a solid internal communications strategy. 

It couldn’t be a simpler process. In essence, the way it works will have you:

  • Review the types of content your team creates and distributes across your channels
  • Outline all of your department’s channels and mediums
  • Measure the frequency of each platform
  • Receive suggested employee survey questions
  • Access a personalized, downloadable audit to share within your organization. 

FAQ

What is an internal communication audit?

An internal communication audit provides a systematic evaluation of an organization’s internal communication processes and channels. This enables internal communicators to assess their effectiveness in conveying information, fostering collaboration, and achieving organizational goals.

What is an example of a communication audit?

An internal communications audit typically includes an analysis of communication channels, content, audience engagement, message clarity, and feedback mechanisms. It also assesses the effectiveness of messaging, and evaluates the consistency of brand communication across various platforms. This makes it possible to identify areas for improvement and enhance overall organizational communication strategy. Ultimately, it provides an overall alignment with organizational objectives so that internal communicators can identify areas for improvement. 

What questions does a communication audit ask?

Questions included in an internal communication audit will depend on the specifics required from every single communication audit. They may address the clarity of communication and effectiveness of channels by asking employees how clear and effective they think communication is. They often question employee understanding of organizational goals, feedback mechanisms, and employees’ perceived transparency and openness of communication within the organization.

What methods are used for audit communications?

Methods you can use for auditing internal communication commonly involve surveys, interviews, focus groups, and an analysis of content. They commonly examine communication tools and platforms to gather data and insights into the strengths and weaknesses of an organization’s existing internal communication practices.

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