A public relations audit is an internal process whereby company leaders, often in collaboration with a PR firm, review opportunities to communicate and potential threats to the organization's reputation. In performing a PR audit, the business must consider both internal factors and possible circumstances outside the company's control.
A PR audit examines both opportunities and potential threats to the company and its image. An analysis of internal opportunities is used to identify strengths and avenues for promotion that contribute to development of a proactive strategy. In this step, the company prepares messaging and sets media schedules to get the word out about brand or product strengths. Free PR opportunities are reviewed in conjunction with paid marketing strategies. The key is to present a unified, consistent picture of your brand.
The other half of the internal audit equation is consideration of brand or product vulnerabilities. These are the weaknesses of your company or potentially controversial issues that may arise. Recognizing these ahead of time allows for their inclusion in the formulation of a reactive PR strategy, including planned methods and messages of response when competitors, media or the public brings up any of your vulnerabilities.
External threats are typically a greater challenge with public relations because they are harder to predict and out of your control. External threats include any scandals, negative events, societal uproars, boycotts or other outcries from the media or public that can damage your brand. Part of the PR audit is to assess as many potential threats or to brainstorm possible scenarios that could affect you.
Another component of developing a reactive PR strategy includes planning how to address unpredictable, external threats or events. For instance, a company may decide that if an unexpected, negative event occurs, it will wait 24 hours to respond or issue an immediate statement. Laying out which methods, such as press conferences or press releases, to use in combating negative events is also part of building strategy. A planned, systematic reaction to unexpected events generally leads to a more positive impression than an unprepared, impulsive response.