i don’t often write about the actual work i’m doing. i may insert a client example to support a point, but i haven’t specifically shared current or past work. starting today, i’m adding this to the mix as another way to talk about what works and what doesn’t in health communications. first up: a post on a brand-new client i started working with last week—and, as a matter of interest, i met on twitter.
this client’s in the early stages of their wellness effort. they want to evaluate their current communication approach and be thoughtful about what they do next. we’re starting with a communication audit. over the next few weeks i’ll gather information so i can tell them, based on their goals, where i see communication gaps and where i see places and ways they can be more effective. this discovery process:
ensures clear articulation of goals, barriers and long-term vision
i’ll be speaking with the VP of HR, the wellness manager and the benefits manager. many times i’ll speak to general managers and employees, too, asking slightly different questions. depending on the client, this may be the first time they’ve sat down to think about strategy, vision and key constituencies, or it can unearth places where team members aren’t on the same page. through these conversations, we’ll find any disconnects early when we can do something about it.
detects design, infrastructure and information gaps
in addition to qualitative information, i’ll also collect cold, hard data. i’ll ask them to complete a detailed questionnaire that tells me about their company. i’ll ask for their workforce demographics broken down by race, gender, risk level, top chronic conditions. i’ll ask about their wellness program design: what they offer, to whom and how they incent or penalize. naturally, i’ll ask about their communication approach: what channels do they use? what audiences do they target, if any? what about social channels? who has access to what at work and at home? what measurement have they done and what does it show? not only does this exercise tell me about what they’re doing and identify what they could be doing, it also tells me—and them—where there are design, infrastructure or knowledge gaps that’ll keep us from being effective.
reveals communication culture, style and effectiveness
the third bit of data gathering involves collecting communication samples and available surveys (engagement, communication) and focus group data. by reviewing these pieces, i can see how they communicate and, objectively, how they represent themselves. i can also quickly see whether employees are receiving a battery of information with no consistent, readily-identifiable branding. if survey and focus group information’s available, i can also see where their messages are getting through—and where they’re not.
makes me smarter, faster
i’m an outside consultant, which means i don’t have intimate knowledge of their culture, their history or their way of doing things. by immersing myself in what they’ve been doing and what they want to do, i effectively school myself on the organization and emerge as a de-facto employee, with the ability to deliver solutions that’ll truly work in their environment.
in a pinball world where we ricochet from this request to that emergency, this client’s slowing things down and investing time up front. in return, they’ll gain concrete information they can use to confidently direct and defend their future investment of not only time, but money.
if you’d like to know more about how a communication audit, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 215.922.2525.