Ten principles to guide a comms and marketing review

Show me a person that loves having their work reviewed and I’ll show you someone with a massive ego and the hide of a rhino. And yet, time and again, we’ve seen reviews of a communication/marketing function produce big leaps forward for a team.

Whether it’s to support a new strategic approach, adapt to new technologies, refocus after budget cuts or simply to ensure you are on track, a good review of a comms function can bind a team together and even raise the profile and appreciation of comms in an organisation. 

However, having your work analysed can feel exposing.  And most people in comms work hard - rarely are performance issues down to a lack of effort.  So if a review is handled badly, it can be disruptive and sap morale.

We’ve conducted more reviews this year than ever before.   So we wanted to capture and share some of our learning.   Here are ten principles that we think underpin a successful review of an organisation’s communications/marketing/PA functions:

  1. Be clear about why you are doing this – how are your comms likely to be better at the end?
  2. The value of a good review is its objectivity so keep an open mind.  Pre-empting results can skew the evidence.
  3. Even the best team members are likely to be nervous if their work is under scrutiny so follow, and communicate, a clear process for the review.  Keep the process efficient and bring it in it on time.  Clarity and communication build confidence.
  4. Gather a range of data (web analytics, media coverage, social media interactions) and qualitative evidence (interviews, stories of impact).  Wherever possible measure impact not just output.
  5. No communications function works in isolation.  You’ll also need to look at how the organisation as a whole plans and prioritises and how this impacts on what comms is able to deliver.
  6. Inspire people to work differently.  Look at what is happening in other, comparable, organisations.  Where is the innovation and best practice happening?  Think whether any of that can be adapted to your organisation.
  7. Benchmarking with other, comparable, organisations also provides a useful reality check on budget and head count. 
  8. Analysis of all the data requires time and headspace.  Start with the ‘big themes’ emerging but don’t ignore the detail – sometimes the key insights and solutions are not immediately obvious.
  9. Be rigorous about the evidence you use to underpin your recommendations.  Make sure it stands up to scrutiny.  That way you maintain credibility.
  10. Wherever appropriate involve the people being reviewed.  Give them a central role in identifying the issues and finding better ways of working.  The more you involve them the more likely they are to embrace the results.

Once the review has concluded communicate the results widely throughout the organisation.  And devote time and resource to support new ways of working.  Keep the process clear, credible and objective and you won’t go far wrong.

Have we missed any important principles?  Do you agree with ours?  Please let us know via twitter at randall_fox.  And contact us at any time for more information on our communications reviews.