How to Do a Communications Self-Audit

How to Do a Communications Self-Audit

April 22, 2013 by

Before we talk about how we should probably talk about why. Regular, scheduled, self-audits are important for a lot of reasons, but for our purposes I’m going to focus on three:

  1. Consistency: Ministry is fast-paced. A lot of times, we are flying by the seat of our pants just to get the next email newsletter out. By the time six months have passed, the people around you have probably tried to get things done their own way (I lovingly call this “unintentional innovation”). In fact, you’ve probably made a few weird choices yourself. It’s important to recalibrate and make sure everyone is on the same page.
  2. Vision Leaks: If you can take time to look over what you’re doing and get feedback, you’ll be able to identify which part(s) of your vision needs to be re-communicated.
  3. Effectiveness: Sometimes, we fall into the pattern of doing things because we’ve always done them (or because they’re easy). If you can take an honest look at your methods, it will help you measure their effectiveness and make changes as needed.

Let’s Get Auditing
Time for the “how.” The first thing you need to do is to take an assessment of everything you’re currently doing. This is probably the hardest part, but it’s the most foundational. Literally sit down and write out everything you do to communicate in your church. You might want to break it down by ministries and/or time frames. The list should be comprehensive, so be sure to take your time.

Once you have that list, you’ll want to actually assess each item. Here are a few ways to accomplish that:

Surveys: Send out electronic and/or paper surveys to people in your congregation asking them about different communication methods. Use a very simple rating scale for each thing you mention:

  • 0 = I have no idea what you’re talking about.
  • 1 = never use it.
  • 2 = I’ve seen it before, but it wasn’t helpful.
  • 3 = I could take it or leave it.
  • 4 = I use this a lot (almost every time it’s available).
  • 5 = I fully rely on this to know what’s happening.

Be sure not to overwhelm people: the less choices they have, the better. I’d suggest choosing no more than five things for people to rate. If it were me, for example, I would choose our website, weekly bulletin, email newsletter and Facebook posts.

Staff One-on-Ones: If you break your communication methods into ministry areas, it would be great to sit down with the leaders of that ministry and get their opinion on how it’s going. Remember, this is a fact-finding mission to make your methods more effective and help you serve people better, it’s not an opportunity to defend yourself. Hear the leaders out and learn from their perspectives.

Feedback Loops: Create a very short questionnaire for participants to complete after certain events/classes. It can be as simple as this:

How did you find out about ________________?

What made you actually decide to come?

A communications self-audit is not something you’ll be able to do constantly, so here are some strategic times to focus on getting input:

  • After big events.
  • With a new ministry launch.
  • Before a web redesign.
  • When vision initiatives change.

The only thing “self” about a communications self-audit is that you have to commit to it. Everything else about this process involves others. It is crucial to get opinions from the people who use, and hopefully benefit, from the methods you’ve come up with. If you want to get the most out of this experience, be open to criticism, change and new ideas. It will not only make your communications strategies better, it will make your relationships better and it will make you a better leader.

Good luck. If you have specific tools you’ve used in the past, share them in the comments so we can learn from each other.

We’re thrilled to partner with Creative Missions (our nonprofit parent, the Center for Church Communication, handles the Creative Missions finances). Learn more about Creative Missions and this year’s trip to Alaska and consider a financial donation to help church communicators help other churches communicate better.

For more helpful tips like this, check out Dangerous: A Go-to Guide for Church Communication. It’s a booklet of articles by Creative Missions alumni offering a crash course in church marketing basics.

Post By:

Danielle Hartland

Danielle Hartland is the director of communications at Grace Church in Erie, Penn., where her goal is to create and foster accessible communication strategies that cut through without cutting in. You can find her fastest on Twitter: @daniellesuzanne.
Read more posts by | Want to write for us?

Comments are closed.