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NSPRA Communication Audit

Research and Recommendations to Increase the Effectiveness of Your Communication Program

Today’s education constituents—students, parents, school employees, taxpayers, business leaders and other community members—are savvy consumers; they expect to be kept informed about their local schools. Increasingly, they also are demanding an opportunity to be involved and have a voice in the education process—whether in person or virtually. It is imperative that school districts develop ongoing, two-way communication and engagement programs that keep constituents informed and involved, demonstrate fiscal and educational accountability, and build support for the schools.

The NSPRA Communication Audit establishes vital benchmarks to evaluate a district’s communication program, and when used as a follow-up reassessment several years down the line, it helps ensure a district remains on track for delivering an exemplary, cost-effective and impactful communication program.

Our in-depth, independent review of your system’s overall communication program, by veteran school communication experts, will help you make the most of your communication dollars by assessing the effectiveness of current strategies; identifying strengths, weaknesses and communication gaps; and recommending proven, cost-effective tactics for achieving your communication goals.

Nothing is more important in demonstrating accountability and building trust and support between your district and community than the quality of your communication. The NSPRA Communication Audit uses a basic building block of public relations practice—listening—to evaluate and make recommendations for your communication program. An audit is valuable because it saves your district time and money, and it boosts effectiveness by ensuring that limited education funds allotted to communication are spent wisely and in a cost-effective manner.

The NSPRA Communication Audit process includes two major research components:

Quantitative Research: We will survey three broad stakeholder groups—your staff, parents and community members—about their communication preferences, perceptions and ideas. Key data points in your results will be compared to other districts nationwide to help put them in context.

Qualitative Research: We will conduct a rigorous review of the district’s communication materials, district and school websites and social media pages. We also will conduct focus groups with the district’s key internal and external stakeholders, and interviews with the superintendent and communications staff.

These research components are part of a four-phase process that will provide a comprehensive analysis of the flow of communication throughout your school system:

  1. Preparing for a Successful Review Process
  2. Analyzing Your Current Communication Program
  3. Listening to Your Key Stakeholders
  4. Developing Recommendations for a Strategic Communication Program

We tailor each NSPRA Communication Audit to the specific needs of the contracting school district. The process results in a comprehensive report with key findings based on our research and customized recommendations based on school communication best practices and proven, successful strategies used in today’s school systems. Our recommendations can serve as the framework for your development of a comprehensive communication plan.

It generally takes about 17 weeks to complete the full communication audit process, but some school districts contract for the audit months in advance of when they want the work to happen. We tailor each NSPRA Communication Audit to the specific needs of the contracting school district. If you have a target deadline in mind or a time frame you need to avoid, let us know and we’ll discuss how that might impact the timeline.

  • Experience. Since 1985, NSPRA has conducted more than 200 school communication audits and reviews, across the United States and in Canada, for school systems with 800 students to 190,000 students as well as for school boards associations and regional education agencies. NSPRA’s annual National School Communication Awards contests give us unique exposure to the latest and most successful school communication strategies and tactics. NSPRA’s Rubrics of Practice and Suggested Measures publication, which establishes benchmarks for emerging, established and exemplary communication programs, also informs the audit process.
  • Resources. NSPRA knows better than anyone else what’s going on in school districts and agencies around the country and how to communicate for maximum effectiveness. NSPRA's "catbird" seat gives you the most up-to-date solution to solving your communication problems.
  • Economics. Our research and recommendations will help you ensure that valuable school district resources are focused on communication strategies and tactics that will have the greatest impact for your investment.

  • When a new superintendent or communications director joins the school district, or there is a major shift in school board leadership.
  • When you are about to embark on a new initiative such as strategic planning or a bond/levy request.
  • When there are major demographic changes in the community you serve.
  • When the public perception of your organization needs improvement.
  • When you want to become more strategic with your current communication practices.
  • When a communication audit hasn't been conducted for five or more years.

Next steps

To learn more about an NSPRA Communication Audit, please fill out the form below. A member of NSPRA's auditing team will contact you to schedule a time to discuss the audit process and answer any questions.