Basic marketing and PR reviews – my ‘quick communications questionnaire’

In an ideal world a full marketing and PR review (with data analysis) provides the information for your communications strategy.  But we don’t live in an ideal world.

Too often, time and money constraints mean we need to assess communications activities quickly and cost-effectively, often without the data insights that lie behind logins.

This is when I deploy my ‘quick communications questionnaire’ – a series of questions that help me get a ‘feel’ for a company’s communications and identify any quick-wins.

I thought you might find it useful too. So here it is, my ‘quick communications questionnaire’:

Branding

Does your brand match your target audience needs?

Your brand is much more than your logo. Every image you post and every word you write conveys your brand.  Whether it’s a light-hearted Facebook post or a technical article, you’re communicating your brand values.

When looking at your communications, I’ll be asking questions like:

  • Who’s the target audience?
  • What colours, imagery, fonts, writing style and tone is likely to appeal to them when thinking about this product or service?
  • What does the logo say about the company and does this match potential customers’ desires? We all associate colours, shapes, fonts with emotions. Good graphic designers use this to convey complex messages within seemingly simple designs.
  • What brand values can be inferred from other available marketing and PR activity e.g. website, social media posts, advertising and brochures etc?

What is your USP? How easy is it to identify your USP and differentiate your offering from your competitors?

Do you deliver products faster than your competitors? Perhaps outstanding customer service is your thing? Or maybe it’s your ability to tailor the service you offer to your clients’ needs.  Whatever it is, I (and your potential customers) need to be able to clearly distinguish what makes your company better than your competitors.

Is branding consistent across all the organisation’s communications?

Reinforcing your branding at every opportunity builds brand awareness, embeds values and develops trust. All marketing activities should be clearly branded (PR activities may be more subtle). I’ll be looking for consistent and proper use of:

  • logos (i.e. not squashed or stretched)
  • brand colours
  • messages

Tone and writing style will should also reflect brand values.

Website

Is it easy to find your company online?

I’m not expecting every company to have a #1 Google ranking, but I do want to find you quickly and easily with relevant key words. SEO is important and it’s no co-incidence that Google’s algorithms reward user-friendly sites.

Is the website up to date?

Whether it’s the company website, blog or social media accounts, maintaining active communications is key.  While I appreciate that it can be hard to consistently post across a wide range of outlets, your target audience is unlikely to think that way. The worst case scenario is that out-of-date content might make users ask if your company is still trading.

Is the site user-friendly?

Can a customer find the information they are looking for quickly and easily?

I’ll put myself in the shoes of a prospective client wanting to find out more about a product, or pretend to be a customer that’s already made the purchasing decision and be looking to buy your product online.  Either way, I’m checking your website to see if it meets your customer’s needs.  You can break the question down into:

  • Does your website load quickly?
  • Can you view it easily on your mobile?
  • Is your site well signposted?
  • How many steps are there to finding a product and buying it?
  • Does the site make it easy to share content on other platforms?

Search Engine Optimisation

Have you included keywords? Have you made good use of your H1 and H2 headers?  I’ll be checking if you’ve deployed basic SEO techniques.

Social Media

Have you completed your bios?

These are free spaces where you’re able, and your target audience expects you to, position your company and brand.  Make the most of it!

Do you have a presence on the social media platforms your target audience is using?

It’s easy to get trapped into thinking you’ve got to be on all social media platforms. You don’t. Often it’s more effective to focus your energy and efforts on platforms with the highest concentration of users matching your target audience’s profile.

When looking at your social media accounts, I’m checking to see if you’re attracting your target audience, whether you’ve a variety of posts and if your audience is engaging with you (with likes, shares, comments).

Engage or push?

Social media sites are not a soap box on which to stand and shout ‘buy from me’. They are a platform for building relationships and engaging with your audience.  It’s important to respect any time and attention your audience is giving you on social media platforms by providing valuable, rewarding content.

How do you deal with feedback?

Most individuals accept that there are occasions when something goes wrong…it’s how a company responds that makes or breaks them.  Where I see complaints, I’m looking for timely, respectful responses that shows your company is listening and trying to resolve the issue.

Public Relations

Are you making the most of any newsworthy events, technical expertise or industry trends?

PR’s powerful suite of tools are not getting used nearly enough by smaller companies (in my opinion).  This may be because ROI is longer-term and harder to measure.

When reviewing your company’s communications, I’ll check to see if you’re engaging with your audience through third party outlets. I’ll search for relevant press releases, articles, events, webinars and podcasts.

If/where I do find PR pieces I’ll use similar criteria as I have for the marketing activities – is it likely to reach your target audience, how engaging is the content and does it represent your brand in the way you want it to?

I’ll also be looking for how you’ve used the opportunity to showcase your skills, knowledge and experience.  I’ll consider the extent to which you’ve engaged with the audience, served the needs of the outlet and pushed your product.

Competitors

How does your marketing and PR compare with your competitors’? 

    • Does their website rank higher than yours on the main search engines?
    • Is it easier to navigate/find product info/buy from?
    • What’s their USP?
    • How do they position their brand?
    • How are they targeting your target audience?
    • Which social media platforms are they using?
    • How frequently are they posting on these platforms?
    • Which of their posts are attracting the most engagement?
    • What PR tools are they using?
    • Which outlets are they working with and how successful have their efforts been?

Taking the time to consider these questions will give you a feel for the effectiveness of your communications. Often the process reveals some gaps or areas where you can improve your communications. Writing your results down is important too; not only does it help you consolidate and refine your thoughts, but it gives you a benchmark which you can reflect on next time you assess your company’s marketing and PR activity.