Welcome to Q4: 3 Tips for conducting an insightful year-in-review audit

It goes without saying that public relations goals are only as effective as the vision and strategy used to achieve and execute them. The fourth quarter, aka right now, is the perfect time to take a step back and conduct a retrospective communications year-in-review audit.

Why?

Turning your attention toward fully analyzing what has worked, what flopped and what needs to be prepped in order to land press coverage in early 2019 gives you the data you need to make important decisions about workload, strategy and ideal client initiatives moving forward.

End of year audits are a great way for agencies and consultants to show ROI movement to clients. Here are a few high-level tips for auditing your work thus far:

1. REVIEW YOUR HITS AND MISSES

Quantify your public relations impact by gauging the quality versus quantity of press hits and other efforts.  Review the success of website clicks, search engine rankings, overall follower growth and engagement, and referral links, which are impacted by public relations tactics. Look at how the brand was discussed and what key messages were most compelling. For digital coverage, shares, likes and engagement measure reach and social share metrics. Low numbers could be either because the placement wasn’t shared via social networks, newsletters, and on the client’s website, or you missed your target audience.

For the new year, review your list of factors that contributed to the successes and failures of each placement, to adjust your ongoing outreach. As a bonus, consider incorporating tools such as Snip.ly to extend the life of earned placements, by directing visitors to specific landing pages on the client website.

2. analyze SOCIAL CONTENT PERFORMANCE

Do some digging into clients overall online presence, paying special attention to priority social accounts. A substantive content audit requires assessing the content from the social network relative to the brand message on the website, to assess its strengths and weaknesses. Use the analytic metrics provided to look at the performance of individual posts, blog content, brand mentions, videos, and employee and partnership profiles to determine what is connecting with followers, and where there is room for improvement. Share Count and Social Mention are free online analysis tools to track digital performance on major social networks. We recommend creating a shared Google Docs spreadsheet to keep track of your findings as an ongoing reference guide.

Also, use this audit to be sure all owned social profiles are on brand (i.e. voice, hashtags, images, etc.), no random non-approved accounts have been set up, all employee posts are up to code, and that you are using channels that make the most sense for the brand. If you identify any abandoned accounts, decide if they need to be closed, or add them to your new year marketing strategy. Additionally, consider mixing up your delivery vehicles beyond social media, i.e. case studies, webinars, teleconferences, podcasts, etc. where you can continue to provide beneficial content for your community.

3. Meet with marketing and sales to discuss efforts as a whole

Public relations doesn’t exist on its own island, and more than ever communication teams need to be meeting regularly to ensure integrated efforts. Set up a meeting to collectively review brand marketing materials, press hits and sales materials relative to its competitors. Assemble the brand guidelines, packaging, press kit, and promotional items; print out your email blasts, e-books, sponsored social network ads, and website content, and sort them by product or campaign for their overall effectiveness. Is the brand occupying the right market position? Has it veered off course? Are your digital ads generating leads? Were your email blasts timed in sync with the schedule of your target audience?

By taking an overarching view, you can identify stale messages, poor communications timing, and see what needs updating in response to new environmental factors like changing demographics or new products. If the brand design needs a little refresher, use this time to begin updating the look and message so it can be a part of your new year creative strategy.

So before you send another pitch or partner with another influencer, use this strengths and weaknesses assessment to measure the earned influence from your tactics. This review will give you fresh ideas to ensure the brand is on track to reach its goals for the next 12 months.

Whether you are in-house, at an agency or freelance, the year-end audit is an opportunity to effectively measure the success and results of your efforts throughout the year. This evaluation serves as a snapshot in time that analyzes activities, collaborations, and programs to see what was effective and what needs adjusting to move your campaign forward toward your client’s overarching business goals.

Whether you are in-house, at an agency or freelance, the year-end audit is an opportunity to effectively measure existing efforts and prep for the New Year.