What is it?
A communications audit is an objective examination of all communications in the congregation — auditory, written and electronic.Why is it necessary?
As with any congregational program, it is important to assess its effectiveness in communicating the mission of the congregation. Ineffective tools are best replaced by effective ones.When should it be done?
An annual audit is best, but at least before beginning or ending any particular program or revising logos or styles or Web pages; an audit will direct energies in the best direction.Who should do it?
A communications audit, like any financial audit, should be done by a disinterested third party. Synod communicators, if not available themselves, can suggest someone from another congregation, or a professional communicator nearby, who might be able to help.How expensive will it be?
In most cases, costs will be limited, or possibly even shared; exchanging audits with another congregation will help communicators in both.What will it look like?
The three forms used by Kristi Bangert, ELCA executive for Communication Services, are listed below. Print and photocopy as many of each sheets as you need.
- Materials Inventory Form
Include the congregation's mission statement at the top of every form, to keep it in front of you as you work. On the inventory form, list each item produced in the congregation: church directory, news releases, Sunday bulletins, brochures, monthly newsletters, ads for events for newspapers/newsletters, letterhead and envelopes, Yellow Pages ad, mailings to the congregation or community, door hangers, answering machine script, Web site, etc.
- Assessment Form
Use one form for each item inventoried; put mission statement at top and measure:
- Consistency of piece with mission statement and goals
- Quality standards of piece
- Service to target audience
- Survey Form
Put mission statement at top of page and use a separate page for each item inventoried. Ask members of the congregation as well as those in the wider non-member community the questions suggested:
- Do you think _____ Lutheran does a good job of communicating with its members? With the wider, nonmember community?
- What is _____ Lutheran's strongest/best communication tool for members? Community?
- What is _____ Lutheran's key message?
- What is _____ Lutheran's mission statement?
Ask for suggestions for improvement and other comments.
Whom to Survey?
When asked about how to sample members, etc., Bangert said:
I really don't have a recommendation to make here. I've done this so many different ways. It depends on the context. One of my favorite tactics is to get hold of the congregation's directory - this needs to be part of the audit anyway - and go through page by page and pick two people/households to call from each page. If it's a photo directory, one can be deliberate about choices while considering age, ethnicity, marital status, family status, etc. If it's a non-photo directory, choices are far more random but often just as interesting. As for people outside the congregation, I've tried canvassing the neighborhood surrounding the church itself. I've included other congregations of different denominations in the area as well. You can see why it's so important to have someone outside one's own congregation do this "research."