Assessing Organizational Communication: Strategic Communication Audits

Article excerpt

Assessing Organizational Communication: Strategic Communication Audits. CaI W. Downs and Allyson D. Adrian. New York: Guilford Press, 2004. 292 pp. $40 pbk.

At first glance, Assessing Organizational Communication: Strategic Communication Audits looks like a text for a business school class. The book jacket touts the importance of building "comparative knowledge about organizational problems" and notes the book is best for classes that focus on "field methods, diagnostic processes, and training, and consulting in organizational communication."

The lead author, CaI W. Downs, is considered one of the "founding fathers" of the discipline of organizational communication. According to his biography, Downs has conducted training programs for global companies including OPEC. His now out-of-print 1988 textbook, Communication Audits, has reached classic status, and, according to early reviews, this new edition is much needed and well received. His coauthor, Allyson D. Adrian, is internationally known for her work presenting U.S. intellectual culture.

But what does this book hold for the journalism and mass communication educator? Plenty. For the professor of public relations, advertising, or integrated marketing communication, this jewel of a textbook can add new insight into-and examples of-the deeper evaluation process mandated by today's business culture. The authors do this in clear, understandable language with straightforward instructions and samples. The book is also an affordable companion to any course textbook.

The authors say the purpose of the book is to "explain different means of analysis, from which the reader is free to choose what will work best in a given situation." This is the biggest selling point the book has to offer. This book covers everything from rationale examination to questionnaire development to focus group interviews to the importance of the final report. The book also offers a close examination of four major international survey methodologies. Each example is clearly marked, thoroughly discussed, and ready for adaptation and implementation. It's an assessment toolbox from cover to cover.

Take, for example, chapter 2, titled "Initiating and Planning an Assessment." This is a chapter about a communication audit, a valuable tool in business today. For the public relations student, knowledge of, or participation in, the process of a communication audit could be a valuable experience. It's a teachable moment examined in even the most basic public relations textbooks, and it's a process of which every public relations student should be cognizant. …