How to Successfully Execute a Brand Audit for New and Existing Clients

Jan 08, 2024

Routine brand audits are essential to your PR strategy — they allow you to zoom out and see all the progress you and your client have made! Without them, you wouldn’t know what’s working and what’s not.

A successful brand audit gives you a comprehensive status update on your client. Once your audit is complete, you can create a data-backed press plan that delivers amazing results! 

What Is a Brand Audit?

A brand audit is an overarching checkup on your client’s brand and how they’re faring in the media. You should do an audit every time a new client joins your agency and continue to do audits every 6-12 months (or every time your retainer renews). Typical audits involve looking at client data like web traffic, social media engagement levels, and mailing list numbers.

The audit should evaluate your client’s position in their niche. Playing the comparison game is never fun, but pinpointing a client’s strengths and weaknesses lets you know what doesn’t need to change while highlighting opportunities for improvement.

How to Do a Brand Audit for a Current Client

A brand audit can be overwhelming for any PR pro, so it’s best to break it down into smaller milestones. Let’s take a step-by-step look into executing brand audits for your clients!

#1: Do an Annual KPI Review

You should already be generating monthly client reports (we cover how to do that in The Agency Accelerator!), but reviewing them annually is important, too! 

A year-end brand audit lets you see the broader scope of your client’s journey over the year, especially surrounding audience behavior. Year-end reviews help you answer questions like:

  • How has my client grown?
  • What setbacks impacted them?
  • How did my client’s audience react to a new product launch? 
  • Which outreach methods worked best? 
  • What was the impact of their media features?

The KPIs you track will depend on the services you provide and your client’s niche, but here are some of the most common metrics for digital agencies:

#2: Generate a Rough Plan

Once you have your data in hand, it’s time to reflect on the previous year. While keeping your client’s goals as the focus of the conversation, ask yourself (and your team!) these questions to develop a rough plan for the next year:

Question #1: What’s working well? How can we do more of that?

Figure out how you can lean more into what’s already working to leverage the good results you’ve already achieved. Make your client’s wins the cornerstones of your overarching strategy — if podcast interviews have been a HUGE hit for your client, plan to do more in the following year!

Question #2: What isn’t working well? How can we address that? 

If you have a goal or project that’s just not working, don’t wait to address it! We like to use the defer, delegate, delete strategy in my agency. Ask yourself:

  • Can you DEFER the goal or shift your focus to prep work that’ll set you up for success? 
  • Should you DELEGATE the project to another team member or a white-labeled service provider who can execute it properly? 
  • Would DELETING the project free you up to focus on projects that will get better results?

Question #3: What new things could you implement?

New tools, tech, and trends pop up all the time. Consider whether there’s anything new on the scene you want to try.

You can also go back through your notes and pull any strategies or angles you set on the back burner that you want to try next year.

Related: How to Use AI in PR for Your Clients (Is It Even Ethical?)

Question #4: What does the audience want and need?

Your client’s audience and customers play a huge part in your client’s success, so take the time to review customer reviews or feedback. Identify what you can do better to serve their needs. What do they want and expect to see from your client? 

Question #5: Are there opportunities to reduce costs?

It’s always a good idea to check in with your client’s budget — you have limited resources, after all! Review all the expenses required to implement your client’s current PR strategy (including team costs!). Look for opportunities to reduce expenses through cutting back or streamlining. 

This step of a brand audit might already be a part of your back-end review as the agency owner, so you can keep the info to yourself. But if your client is fronting the cost of pay-to-play opportunities or events, it’s definitely worth bringing up with them during your year-end chat. 

#3: Meet with Your Client

After you’ve worked out your rough plan, book a call with your client to discuss your brand audit. This is your time to collaborate on your plan for the next year and ensure it hits everyone’s goals. You should share your brand audit findings and any strategies you have in mind, and they should share their goals for next year. 

Use this meeting to get everyone on the same page — misaligned expectations lead to unhappy clients! Both you and your client should be on board with the plan and feel confident about what is realistic.

#4: Build Your Press Plan!

Time to put your prep work into action! Use your brand audit findings and client meeting notes to build a thorough press plan. Your press plan should cover the goals, strategies, objectives, and tactics you’ll implement over the next year.

How to Do a Brand Audit for a New or Prospective Client

Doing a brand audit for a new or potential client is trickier since you won’t have as much access or information as you would with a current client. Use these four steps to guide your auditing process with these clients.

#1: Review Their Existing Brand Presence

Reviewing your potential client’s presence during a brand audit will help you decide whether this client is the right fit for your agency. It also lets you generate a rough strategy to present during your proposal process.

Start with your client’s website and social media platforms. Then, use Google to review their recent press placements and awards. While you research, ask yourself:

  • What is the general sentiment on this brand?
  • Who is their target audience or customer?
  • What are their most popular products or services?
  • What types of social media posts and platforms perform well?
  • How many followers do they have and what’s their engagement level?
  • What current PR strategies do they seem to be utilizing?
  • Where are they getting featured?
  • Are they working with a PR pro/agency currently? Have they in the past?

Related: What is Media Monitoring? (And How to Do It for Your Clients)

#2: Build Out a Rough Strategy

This process looks a lot like how you’d do a brand audit for a client you’ve partnered with for years. Zoom out to the big picture and ask yourself similar questions:

  • What are they doing well? How would you lean into that?
  • What aren't they doing well? How would you fix that?
  • What new things would you recommend they do that they aren't currently doing?
  • What does their audience want and need?

#3: Discuss with Your New or Potential Client

Your client meeting will look a bit different depending on if they’re already a part of your agency or are still a prospective client.

If you’re doing a brand audit for a prospective client, work this into your discovery call before you send over your proposal. Ask them what their goals are for your potential partnership. If they’ve never worked with a PR agency before, you’ll likely have to explain the value of PR and reset any sky-high expectations they have.

If you’re auditing a new client, this will be part of your kick-off call! By now, you should already have a sense of their goals from the discovery phase, but it’s always good to check in and see if anything has changed. Ensure everyone’s on the same page regarding what’s possible — you may need to reset any expectations they have from speaking with other agencies. 

Related: How To Manage PR Client Expectations and Set Yourself Up For Success

#4: Create a Press Plan

Only do a full brand audit and create a press plan after they’ve started their retainer! Audits and press plans take a lot of time and energy, and you should NOT be doing them if you’re not guaranteed to implement them.

Your press plan should cover the goals, strategies, objectives, and tactics you’ll implement over the next year. Make sure you take your findings from your brand audit and your new client’s expectations and goals into account.

Brand audits need to be a routine part of working with your clients. They’re a crucial part of keeping yourself up to date on your client’s position in their niche. Once you start implementing brand audits for new and existing clients, you’ll start building better, more effective press plans!