The Communications Audit—In a Nutshell

Posted on May 12, 2016 in Blog, Fundamentals

If you want to be a strategic communicator and are not sure how to affect change, the first step is to conduct a communications audit. This uber-assessment will provide a framework for an intentional, integrated communications program that puts achieving your school’s goals front and center with audiences who will help you achieve them.

So here’s a quick rundown on audits that should address most of your questions. Your school should do one every five years or so. Set it up for this fall. No more excuses.


  • Inventory current communications messages and vehicles with key audiences
  • Assess your strengths and weaknesses, along with opportunities and threats you are facing (SWOT analysis)
  • Critique major communications vehicles for effective messaging and presentation
  • Analyze school resources (staff, budget, volunteers, databases) that form the infrastructure for a marketing communications program
  • Link communications strategies to relationship management of key audiences


  • Collect, organize and review all school printed and digital materials, samples of correspondence, ads, press releases, tweets, etc.
  • Study website and social media—review analytics
  • Look at reports, records, research conducted by/for school
  • Engage important constituencies in conversations about school communications (focus groups and in-depth interiews)
  • Discuss operations, management and technology with administrators and faculty
  • Conduct competitor analysis of websites and social media


  • Send all materials to consultant to read in advance
  • In-depth interviews and focus groups conducted on campus (some individuals by phone)


  • Best accomplished when school is healthy, not in response to crisis
  • Process takes about three months


  • Active partnership between school and expert objective outsider; with one individual at school serving as official liaison

Looks daunting? Working with an experienced consultant can help you maximize your effort and get honest input from school community members who may not want to say anything critical.


Interested in Cheney & Company conducting a communications audit of your school? Contact us.