Communications Audit Service
What is a communications audit?
A communications assessment is a diagnostic process that will help you determine:
- the effectiveness of your school district's communications with its internal and external publics
- which target audiences the school district needs to reach
- how target audiences perceive the school district
- strategies for building staff and community support and trust
- effective methods for communicating the district's key messages
Why conduct a communications audit?
Whether or not you have a strategic communications program, your school district is communicating with its many publics. Left unplanned, your communication:
- may be haphazard,
- may be controlled by others, and
- may not be sending the messages you intend to send.
A communications audit can help you put your district's communication efforts on the right track.
An audit can set the stage for planning a PR program that gets results.
- It will help you identify existing activities that are fostering staff and community support and those that are not.
- You will learn which audiences the district needs to reach and how these separate groups of people feel about the school district.
- You will discover which methods of communication and targeted messages will work best with each audience.
A communications audit can take the guess-work out of your existing communication efforts.
Rather than doing things the same way year after year "because we've always done them..."
- A communications audit can give you solid information about which of your strategies are working and which are not.
- It will help you tailor proven communications methods to the unique needs of your district.
Why use the Colorado Association of School Boards to conduct this service?
While there are a number of organizations that offer communications audits, the CASB service offers the following advantages:
- CASB works in the best interest of its member school districts as a whole, not for any private or special interest group.
- The CASB Communications Audit Service is managed by two accredited public relations professionals who were required to pass rigorous tests to earn accreditation.
- The CASB process is conducted by professionals who are experienced in the public education field and understand the unique challenges schools face.
- The CASB Communication Audit Service can be tailored to meet the specific needs of your school district.
A communication audit provides the baseline knowledge
you need in order to:
- become strategic about your communications
- build trust with your staff and community
- gain support for the district...
...all with the ultimate goal of contributing to high student achievement.
The Audit Process
Initial Meeting and Research Review
A meeting with the board, superintendent and the districts communications director (if applicable) to determine outcomes and timeline for the project. At that time CASB consultants will collect any background materials for review such as previous surveys, the district’s strategic plan, or the district’s communication plan.
Focus Groups and Interviews
CASB will conduct focus groups and interviews with segments of your school district’s staff and community to assess your publics’ thoughts and feelings about the district. Focus groups and interviews also will help determine the best communications methods to use with various groups.
Focus groups are small meetings of eight to ten people with common characteristics. For example, teachers would be one group; senior citizens would be another group. They are 90-minute sessions where group members exchange thoughts, ideas and opinions about the school district. The meetings are structured with each group being asked a set of predetermined questions. The group meetings are moderated by a CASB consultant who is trained to generate discussion that encourages people to express opinions. Body language and other non-verbal communication signals are also studied by the facilitator.
CASB will also conduct a limited number of one-on-one interviews with key individuals such as school board members, the superintendent, selected elected officials and community leaders.
Materials & Tools Review
CASB will also analyze the district’s communications policies; samples of internal and external communication tools such as newsletters and videos, and the main pages of the school district’s Web site.
CASB will provide a written report which will include:
- an analysis of the staff and community focus groups and interviews
- key communication challenges
- communications tools analysis including Web page analysis
- recommendations for improving communications with both internal and external publics
The report will be presented to the board at a work session.
- Meeting with board, superintendent and communications director to determine desired outcomes
- Focus groups with staff, students and community
- One-on-one interviews with key individuals (may be conducted by telephone, depending on availability)
- Presentation of report at board work session
- Existing materials such as the district’s strategic plan, communication plan, or surveys
- School board communications policies
- Samples of written and audio/visual communication
- Main pages of the district’s Web site
The district will receive a communications audit report containing:
- Analysis and composite results of focus groups and interviews
- Analysis of existing methods of communications
- Policy recommendations
- Areas identified as working well for the district
- Recommendations for improvement
The CASB Communication Audit Service is billed to the district on a sliding-scale fee depending on the size of the district’s student population and the scope of work needed. CASB is happy to provide an individual proposal designed to meet the needs of your school district.