December 5, 2022

What is a PR Audit, and why do you need one?

You want to build brand awareness if you run a public relations campaign, but how do you know if it’s achieving your goals? PR is hard to measure. If this is your situation, it’s sensible to take a good look at campaign performance and how your messaging is generally perceived, using a best-in-class approach. This is the aim of a public relations audit. Here we give a public relations audit definition, what to include in one, and show examples.

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Public relation audit definition

So what exactly is a public relations audit? One definition is the process of understanding key stakeholders' opinions and thoughts about the organization.

A PR audit is designed to identify opportunities to re-position a brand based on the perception of the key stakeholders, customers, employees, investors, and the media. It should look at the brand's tone of voice and personality in owned media, such as the website and social media. Also, the audit should look at how the brand presents itself to external and internal audiences. This includes your company's messaging - what you want to convey, to whom, how, and what by. This means examining your strategy. Does it portray what you wish regarding who you are and where you're going?

What are the benefits of PR audits?

An audit of PR is conducted to determine how people view the company. This provides crucial information about the reputation of the company. Marketing, PR, and advertising issues can be identified by conducting a public relations audit. Here are some further key benefits;

1. Assessing your strategy

Opportunities for an organization can be examined as part of an audit. Identifying strengths and opportunities for promotion is one of the critical elements of developing a proactive strategy.

Examine what has worked for you. Use it to reassess the brand’s media strategy. For instance, is it still in line with your business goals? Look to see if your key messages are communicated correctly and in the best format. This will ensure you’re going in the right direction.

Be sure to analyze your materials and anything else representing your brand. Does this portray what you want it to? Is it consistent across all of these? Updated foundational messaging is the key to getting back to the basics. When crafting messaging and strategies, that knowledge is equally important.

2. Competition watch

A proper PR audit should include a competitor analysis. Auditing helps determine both positive and negative attitudes among stakeholders. The firm can work on the negatives and strengthen the positives. Benchmarking your strategy and assets with direct competitors helps you understand the market and your strengths. You can also use it to differentiate yourselves from the competition thoroughly. To do this, research a minimum of three to five competitors. Take a microscopic approach and include various companies - in-market, out-market, up-and-coming, etc. Study how they communicate and what they bring to the market. Is there anything you can take from this and incorporate into your company that would add value? Look at revenue, profit, employees, the share of voice, social shares, coverage, tweets, likes, and unprompted brand awareness.

3. External threats

Often hard to predict and almost always out of your hands, organizations can find these challenging to plan. They can include economic downturns, natural disasters, adverse events, and unexpected societal reactions. Part of an audit involves trying to prepare for these as best as possible. A company may wait before responding if an unexpected, negative event occurs. Establishing what methods to use to combat adverse events is also part of this strategy. An unprepared reaction generally leaves a less favorable impression. An audit here increases your chance of handling it well.

4. Identifying weaknesses

The most crucial reason for your audit is understanding the company's weaknesses. The sooner you identify your vulnerabilities, the easier it will be for you to respond to them when your competitors, the media, or the public raise them.

5. Identifying strengths

On the reverse side, knowing and seeing what you excel at can encourage you and let you know to keep doing this. Whatever this may be.

When should you do a PR audit?

Many things can happen during the business's course that make it stop and reevaluate the PR in the enterprise. These can be internal or external, as we'll see. A PR audit is conducted in the following cases.

Change of strategy

A desire to reposition the company will invariably lead to a change of strategy and the reassessment of all PR activities. A new message should be devised, and decisions regarding price, place, and promotion formulated. In most cases, repositioning happens when a company sees a decline in sales and realizes that changes are needed. Maintaining the brand requires staying on top of consumer wants and needs. Customers need to know what you represent. The farther you reposition, the more likely an audit is required.

Company restructuring

Restructuration or changes at the top can also signify a change in direction or a new way of doing things. New management may want to take stock of all parts of the business, including sales, operations, marketing, HR, and of course, PR.

The company faces new challenges

New entrants in the market, a decrease in sales, or changes in how the company is seen may mean you have to conduct an audit to find your position within the market, what people think of you, and how your message is perceived.

When streamlining your PR

An organization may feel that its PR is too diverse and spread too far and wide. This may refer to resources (where the company needs to make the most out of them), the media it uses, or the messaging. A company may wish to hone in on these and limit its focus.

To improve PR activity

You are unhappy with the results of your current or previous PR activity. The desired outcomes have yet to be attained. You wish for an independent assessment of the efficiency of your PR or to assess an agency's work.

Identifying further PR priorities

On the other side, your PR may be working, but you wish to expand it into other areas. But you need to do an audit to find out where, if anywhere, these priorities could lie.

What should a public relations audit include?

1. Media

Look at owned assets (social pages, website) and your earned or paid media. If this hasn’t been done in a while or has been in place for a long time, it no longer makes sense or says what you want it to. This is where the audit comes in.

What is being said in the digital world is very important, and a proper audit must include a review of what is being said and shared about your brand by users, industry bloggers, and influencers.

2. Coverage metrics

You work hard to build a brand and for it to be perceived favorably. So you should always be aware of any publicity it receives. In the end, this is what it is all about. Incorrect information should be corrected, and positive comments about your brand should be taken on board. Include domain authority here, also.

3. Patterns

As your business grows, you may notice through the audit that there are some occasions when journalists need information more than others. With the right intelligence, you can develop a PR plan, create timely campaigns, and target journalists at the right time. You can also use this information to set a strategic, planned approach to seasonal news calendars and identify the best contacts for reactive, topical news.

4. Internal

If you were to ask employees what they think of the brand and what they say to the family, what would they say? What do they share about your brand at home? Ask these questions, as well as others. Ask how they understand your brand messaging. They must understand this as they are the representatives of your brand message and its “disciples.”

5. Coverage and sentiment

Analytic tools can break down the depth and nature of your sentiment. Is it positive, neutral, or negative? How is your brand being covered? For instance, was the coverage small or considerable? However, size or space is only sometimes the critical factor. Where it is, and the quality of the coverage is more important. Are you more visible in some media than in others? By looking further at these factors, it is possible to gauge the “sentiment” around your coverage. This involves understanding media coverage accurately, including what the "mentions" are and how frequently they occur. Your brand and emerging markets should be considered when choosing topics and keywords. You may find you should include more video and audio coverage, focus more on social, or feature more USG. Additionally, it is a basis for setting future benchmarks and goals.

Businesses and brands don't always benefit from "any publicity is good publicity." You can determine whether your messaging needs to be changed or whether concerns should be addressed by knowing the sentiment of your media coverage.

6. Share of Voice (SOV) vs. competition

A brand's SOV measures its market share relative to its competitors. You can use it to determine how much you dominate conversations in your industry and how visible your brand is. First, consider your brand's SOV in general media, such as newspapers, general readership websites covering different interests, business media outlets, industry-specific websites and magazines, and social media. Are there any media where you are more prominent than others? Can you compare your brand's mentions with those in your industry?

7. Competition

A thorough analysis of your competition is essential to any PR audit and serves a few purposes. For one, you need to know how your efforts are measuring up. Secondly, it can help you to stand out from other companies as you learn what works and what doesn't for them. It's wise to look at 3-4 competitors. Are their messages resonating with the general public, and what are they doing to promote them? When do they do it?

Additionally, it is important to venture outside the usual business remit and see what they think about social issues. How does it differ from you? All of this helps you get a healthy brand perspective and allows you to cement your position in the market.

How to perform a PR audit

Whatever your niche, whether healthcare, technology, financial services, or SaaS, your audit report should include detailed information, interpretation, and, most importantly, recommendations to follow up on after the audit results.

You should consider the following categories of information when performing an audit.

The overall PR direction

It's important to know where you are headed. In your firm's message, what do you hope to convey? In what way would you like your brand to be perceived by consumers? Communication sent out with a brand will only be succinct if the brand knows how to project and portray itself overall. For this, you need clear objectives beforehand of what you want to achieve. Think about what you have worked on. A united voice will increase brand identity by deciding on the strategic direction for the brand and how it should be talked about. It will also make it less easy for misleading information to come through.

Who your audience is

Companies should evaluate their target audience regularly regardless of the situation, ensuring that their products resonate with the appropriate audience. With certain products, especially in the tech world, shifts in your target audience can occur as the product becomes more. One place to look for your audience is from web analytics platforms that segment users based on location, age, sex, and interests. Another source of data is surveys. Another way to understand who is buying your product is by looking at sales data. You may collect credit card details or shipping address information if you are a retailer. By joining these data sets, you will get a high-level and detailed view of your customer base. If your PR messaging doesn't match your audience, it is time to rethink your strategy.

Communication channels

These should be considered critically. Several forms of media are included here, including television, print, social media, and corporate sponsorship. To get a return on your investment, you should consider the relevance of these channels. Your company's message depends on who gets it. The right information must be shared in the right way. After you do an audience audit, if you find out your demographic is mainly millennials, should you be using Snapchat and ditch TV?

Effectiveness of PR instruments

Here, think about tools such as newsletters, press releases, company brochures, and your website. Do they do the job they should? Is there a reason for them to exist or to continue in their current form? Is the information available elsewhere?

Customer feedback on campaigns

It is only possible to determine how the brand is received by speaking to the public. Take advantage of surveying and website analytics. Listen to the consumer's answers and ask specific questions. Get a gauge of the brand's unprompted brand recall. It is likely to yield the most valuable up-to-date data.

Media outlets and contributors

Part of a PR audit is to examine your media and public relations performance and identify the outlets and writers that give the brand regular and good coverage. This influences the effectiveness of your marketing messages. For those that rarely mention you, consider if you need to supply more information to get them to notice you or if you should attempt to build a better understanding of your company and its place in the market with them.

Social media

This is an important one. Your PR audit should also consider your social media networks as one of the most significant elements. Customers often air their grievances on social media, meaning both the customer problem and the solution are open to the public. How the customer services team articulates these responses is essential to how your brand is perceived. Is the customer service team using the right tone of voice? What greeting is used when engaging with comments from the public; try to use the person's name if possible. The practice of starting every conversation with "Hi customer-name!" or whatever it is in your language quickly becomes dull and routine over and over. Instead, work with a variation. The Millennial generation is more open to originality and uses everyday slang. Think: "Howdy, hello, heya, hello there, what's up? "

Often, apologies are overused; try to change things up a bit when you express your apologies and show sympathy. If you prefer, you can say: "I'm sorry about that," or "I didn't intend to do that". It's clear where this is going. Try to avoid phrases with a negative tone if customer service agents can get stuck in a rut. In addition to acknowledging the problem, it's vital to give a positive, inspiring twist to the conversation.

Instead of focusing on the negative consequences, look for the solution. Never focus on the negative tone of words. It sets the tone for an unpleasant, dissatisfying conversation when words like "annoying" or "unfortunately" are used. Social media calls for a more transparent, crisper tone of voice. It appears reserved to a younger social demographic when phrases typical of more traditional customer service contexts are applied (such as "thank you for your feedback" and "we will look into our systems"). On social media, you only have a limited number of characters. Be short and simple whenever possible, so your voice is to the point.

Are you able to achieve a healthy balance between professional and personal? Social media platforms can be used to build huge followers if used well. They can also be used to position your brand as thought leaders. Find out and track the type and number of shares your content has online and who shares it. Pick the social networks that are right for you and update them daily.

Is there a face to your brand?

Find out how often your company's leadership and representatives are mentioned in the media. Your brand's position will be strengthened if you know what messages are currently being linked to your representatives in the media. In turn, this leads to thought leadership.

Industry Analysts

Pay attention to what industry and financial analysts say about your brand. Industry opinion and feedback could lead to a better product or a more efficient customer experience. It could include comparisons between your product and your competitors, your marketing efforts, and your company's financial strengths. It is recommended to compare industry opinion to general media coverage to see where the two meet and if there are any anomalies or disconnects.

When used in the PR audit process, this can help you reach bigger audiences, made up not only of customers but also investors.

Public Relations audit example

Please see a basic public relations audit template

Explanation PR audit template

Conclusion

A PR audit is essential for any business running campaigns. Here, we looked at a PR audit, why it is performed, and what to include. After undertaking, recording, analyzing these steps and identifying key opportunities and threats, you should better understand your firm's PR strategies and opportunities. Similarly, you may now have more of an idea about its weaknesses and areas in which you may be vulnerable. PR expertise can prove invaluable, allowing you to gain a holistic view of your organization's capabilities and strengths. As a PR specialist with many years of experience working in PR within the tech and startup sphere, I am well-positioned to provide you with the knowledge and expertise needed to offer PR services.

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