Communication Audit Success Stories

ACA Communications Audit

The American Counseling Association (ACA) provides education, community, and professional development opportunities for more than 60,000 mental health counselors. ACA's new leadership team (CEO and CMO) asked Association Vision to evaluate its current marketing and communications portfolio, and to recommend actions to position the organization for growth and innovation. We analyzed ACA's websites, newsletters, social media channels, blogs, podcasts, magazines, journals, leadership communications, and more. Our research included a deep dive into metrics for all communication channels, benchmarking against competing and allied organizations, plus in-depth interviews of more than 20 senior staff and volunteer leaders. Our recommendations addressed actions to increase the effectiveness of all communication channels (including the challenge of two similar, overlapping newsletters), and suggested modifications to content priorities, messaging, operational and technical practices, and more.


IDSA Communications Audit

The Infectious Diseases Society of America hired us to evaluate communications needs of key member segments, benchmark its communications practices, improve its publications and member awareness, identify new revenue opportunities, and leverage member expertise and organizational resources for greater visibility and influence on public policy issues. "The audit was invaluable in helping us make some course corrections immediately, as well as giving us a roadmap plan for the future," said IDSA Vice President of Communications Diana Olson. "The recommendations for integrating the branding across our component organizations, refocusing our messaging, and revamping our digital communications are already improving our member outreach. Association Vision also identified ways to better leverage external events to support public policy goals. We even have new revenue-generating opportunities as a result of the audit. It was money well-spent!"


AFE Strategic Plan Analysis and Communications Plan

The American Floral Endowment engaged us to analyze and update its strategic plan, conduct a communications audit, and create a three-year communications plan. Among our many recommendations were new strategies to engage volunteers and new ways to maximize content delivery, including greater use of videos. AFE Executive Director Debi Aker said, “Association Vision wrote a communications plan in 2011 that was our bible for five years – it helped us expand our digital and social media presence and generate higher readership. We hired them again in 2016 to update our strategic plan, conduct a communications audit, and create a new communications plan. The results were impressive and now we are raising our game to an even higher level!”


AIAA Communications Audit
We spearheaded a magazine modernization project for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics that included a comprehensive communications audit that examined all aspects of AIAA print and online content delivery. The recommendations we made led to enhanced content integration across the organization and built a foundation for an updated online presentation of the magazine that we also created. AIAA Managing Director for Strategic Outreach Rodger Williams said, "AIAA needed a complete modernization for this magazine and a new sophisticated online platform for streamlined content delivery. Association Vision and its team delivered! The member research, analysis, and design expertise they brought to AIAA helped us enhance our brand and improve content connections with our members."

AIPLA Communications Audit
This audit for the American Intellectual Property Law Association, based in Arlington, VA examined all aspects of print and electronic member communications. It included periodicals (some of which are produced with external publishing partners), a research report, a scholarly journal, and marketing pieces. We recommended a restructuring of communication vehicles, including the launch of two new publications, and provided extensive analysis of how to integrate print and electronic delivery systems. Much of our analysis and recommendations also focused on the communications link to the strategic plan, staff structure, and workflow.

Direct Selling Association Communications Audit
This audit for the Direct Selling Association (DSA), based in Washington, DC, included analysis of communication vehicles, including periodicals, meeting and membership promotions, internal communications, and an extensive industry image enhancement campaign.

DSA Vice President of Communications and Media Relations Amy Robinson, APR, reported, “Al Rickard did a thorough job of getting to know our association, and conducted online and telephone interview with our members. His assessment and suggestions were right on target. We're still referencing the materials he provided for us two years later and even hired him to do an additional assessment of one specific element of our communications program. I highly recommend Al for any communications project.”

American Academy of Actuaries Communications Audit
This project involved a complex analysis of overlapping communications among several actuarial associations, with a focus on the American Academy of Actuaries (AAA), based in Washington, DC. All communications were evaluated, including public relations, periodicals, the website, electronic communications of all types, and the staff-volunteer interface. We also conducted interviews with key staff from each of the actuarial organizations, an electronic member survey, and in-depth telephone interviews of members.

AAA Director of Communications Steven F. Sullivan said, “The result was a detailed report that has proved extremely helpful in guiding our future communications decisions, particularly the integration of a pending website redesign and our member newsletters. Al and his team were a pleasure to work with. I recommend them highly.”

NACUBO Communications Audit
This audit for the National Association of College & University Business Officers (NACUBO), based in Washington, DC included a complete analysis of all organizational communications, including periodical publications, public relations, promotional materials, website, e-newsletters, customer service interface, and the organizational and staff structure to serve these functions. Significant recommendations were made in each area, and many have been implemented. We conducted an extensive electronic survey of members and in-depth telephone interviews of key leaders and other members that provided a strong base of research for the audit.

Jeff Shields, CAE, NACUBO Senior Vice President & Chief Planning Officer,
Constituent and Member Services, said, “Working with Association Vision was an absolute pleasure. Al Rickard delivered a communications audit that benefited from his years of experience in the field. We have implemented many of the recommendations included in the audit and our communications efforts are stronger as a result. I would recommend Association Vision to any association who wants a straightforward assessment of its current communications strategies from a consulting firm that delivers on time and within budget.”

Associated General Contractors of California
We conducted a complete audit of the communication program of AGC of California. The audit explored many areas, including assessing how AGC of California communications fit into a complex mix of information delivered by several other regional and state contractor organizations, proposing a branding campaign, and analyzing an outsourced publishing agreement.

AGC of California Manager of Conferences & Communications Pam Gray said, “The communication audit report delivered by Association Vision served as a valuable guide to revamping our website, restructuring our communication vehicles, and creating a Marketing Task Force to help guide our branding campaign and marketing efforts.”

NACHA Communications Audit
Association Vision was engaged to conduct an audit of all member communications of NACHA – The Electronic Payments Association, based in Herndon, Virginia. Mary Yerkes of NACHA said, “The results changed the way we do business. The audit was thorough, balanced, and chock full of practical tips for implementing the recommendations he made. It gave us insight into what our members are really thinking and how we could best serve their needs.”

ABIH Communication and Marketing Audit
The American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH), based in Lansing, Michigan, engaged Association Vision to conduct a comprehensive audit of its public relations and marketing program. Many ideas in these areas had been proposed by volunteer leaders, but few had come to fruition due to a lack of focus and available resources. We assessed these ideas, interviewed volunteer leaders, examined strategic relationships ABIH had with other organizations in its profession, and proposed a set of communication and marketing strategies and tactics.

ABIH Executive Director Lynn O’Donnell said, “Association Vision conducted an in-depth communication audit for ABIH that provided an excellent analysis of our program and gave us specific, actionable ideas for to grow our communications in the future. We were extremely pleased with the results and will probably hire the company to implement some of these recommendations.” ABIH did hire Association Vision to conduct several projects.

ASPS Public Relations Audit
While most associations work hard to generate media interest, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), based in Arlington Heights, IL, had nearly the opposite problem – it attracted so much media attention that it was difficult to manage the workload, deliver consistent messages, track results, and prioritize several ongoing communications campaigns. Opportunities to make stronger public affairs connections were also not maximized. ASPS hired Association Vision in 2004 to conduct a comprehensive audit that included survey interviews with key volunteer leaders and staff and analysis of existing communication programs, staff responsibilities, and workflow. We provided recommendations that honed organizational messages, strengthened connections in the public affairs arena, streamlined the handling of media contacts, refocused some campaigns and phased out others, and developed new program ideas.

ASPS Executive Vice President Paul Pomerantz, CAE, said, “The public relations audit Association Vision did was instrumental in helping ASPS restructure its PR operation. The recommendations helped us create a stronger link between PR and advocacy, and identified core messages and strategies that moved us forward. I highly recommend Association Vision for this type of analysis.”

AIHA Communications Audit
Association Vision conducted a comprehensive communications audit in for the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), based in Fairfax, VA, as the first step in an ongoing public relations program that has spanned seven years. AIHA wanted to assess how well it was communicating to its audiences and establish a baseline for the upcoming public relations program. We surveyed members and volunteer leaders, analyzed major issues facing the industry, examined how AIHA was responding, reviewed how it framed messages, and analyzed other aspects of the communications program. The recommendations issued by Association Vision were carried out through the program, resulting in increased visibility and influence for AIHA.

NUCA Publishing Audit
Association Vision conducted a comprehensive publishing audit of the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA) Utility Contractor magazine, including editorial content, advertising, circulation, production, staffing, online publishing, and finances. The recommendations we provided helped NUCA streamline its editorial review and production process and make other improvements to the magazine.

SSA Strategic Communications Analysis
Association Vision was retained to conduct a comprehensive strategic communications analysis focused on publishing options for the Self Storage Association (SSA), based in Springfield, VA. SSA faced a challenging situation that included a restrictive contract with an external publisher and the lack of its own major communication vehicle. We assessed the existing publishing contract, analyzed the external communications market and competition, identified potential strategic alliances, and proposed a new set of communication vehicles. The result was more effective communication to members through the launch of a successful newsletter and an increase in advertising revenue from this and other communication vehicles.