The articles we share here focus on helping you improve your communications program — both internal and external. But it’s difficult to reach your communications goals without a good understanding of where you are now. Before you dive in and get started, it’s worth taking the time to see where your communication program stands today.
The Content Audit
When we begin work with an electric utility or telecommunications company, the first step is often a content audit. People usually think of the word “audit” in a negative sense, but in this case it is a positive process that allows you to develop a solid record and a better understanding of the messages you are sending to your customers.
It can also save you time. During the audit, you will discover existing content that you can repurpose to better meet your communications goals.
A content audit begins by gathering every piece of information your company currently uses to communicate with its customers. Once collected and assembled, find a way to catalog and organize every piece. We recommend a simple spreadsheet, but even an app such as Evernote can be excellent for keeping up with what you have published.
Once you have everything organized, you can begin thinking about how to use these pieces in the future. A direct mail piece you developed previously may serve as solid content for a series of Facebook posts, for example.
Include employees from other departments in this process. Give them a checklist of what kinds of materials you’re looking for, and ask them to collect what they have. Your customer service representatives in particular may have several pieces.
What Exactly Is “Content?”
“Content” is any piece of information that has been created and used to reach out to your customers. This information may have a variety of purposes:
• To market your products or services
• To educate your customers about a program
• To inform the public about an event or company news
• To encourage involvement or particular behavior from your customers
• To move your customers toward some type of decision or action
Here are a few examples of items to collect for your content audit:
• Bill Inserts
• Newspaper ads
• Information sheets
• Anything you hand out to your customers in the office or the field
• Press releases
• Point-of-sale material
• Instructions/technical specs
• User manuals
• Quick reference guides
A content audit is a great foundation for your communications program. Seeing the whole picture of what messages you are already sending your customers is invaluable as you decide what your new direction should be.