Creating the “right” survey questions
Q: In order to create the right questions, don’t you have to have a hypothesis about what your problems might be? Related to the question of what am I going to do with the results…
Q: In general, a communication audit survey should include questions about how effectively messages are getting through and about how effective the channels carrying the messages are. To some extent, you can create about 80% of the “right” survey questions based mostly on the messages/campaigns/topics your department is supposed to be communicating and the channels your job involves managing. You’ll be asking questions that will tell you how well you’re doing on some things and identifying messages and channels that need some type of action to be taken. I also like to ask stakeholders where they currently learn about certain topics and where they would prefer to in order to change the mix of channels we use on different topics so they are most effective for our stakeholders–and more efficient in terms of using our own resources…the fewest channels to reach the most people on a topic.
I do recommend also doing qualitative research with your stakeholders before finalizing a survey because you may not be aware of some of the topics they really want to know about, which should become part of your survey. You may not know what is making your channels effective or less effective; the soft research will help you craft questions that will identify characteristics or aspects of your campaigns and channels that are limiting their effectiveness. You can then add those questions to your survey. Then, if you find out one channel is not performing as well as it should be, you’ll also have the data in hand to know what aspects of the channel to change to make it more effective: do you need to change the frequency, the format, the length, the content, the writing style, design, etc.? I think that’s where your hypotheses come into the process.