MESD is committed to open, transparent, and effective communication as a necessary component of the agency’s organization and operation. As provided in MESD Board policy, MESD’s ability to provide communication requires a communication plan, and the maintenance and operation of an effective communications program.
Best practices inform the agency’s decisions regarding communications. The National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) is a recognized professional association which guides best practices for district communications. The NSPRA recommends a communications audit when:
● The agency wants to improve communication and support for its operations;
● When a new superintendent or board majority takes office;
● When a new public relations professional comes on board;
● When a communication audit hasn't been conducted for five or more years.
The MESD has experienced all of these changes in the past nine months. Additionally, MESD does not currently have a communication plan as required by Board policy. 
MESD’s ability to craft a communication plan and maintain and operate an effective communications program requires that we:
1) Identify a position to oversee an all-agency communication audit which will gather data about the agency’s internal and external communication needs and existing communications infrastructure to inform the development of an MESD communication program
2) Develop and maintain an MESD communication program with resources sufficient to meet the agency’s communication needs and to implement a board approved communication plan
3) Develop and regularly update a board approved communication plan.
The Public Information Officer is tasked with the oversight and implementation of external and internal communications for the agency. The PIO is prepared to oversee an audit to review and gather data about the agency’s communication needs and existing communications infrastructure. The data will inform updates to MESD’s communication program. In order to proceed with the audit the agency needs an independent communications auditor.
 MESD Board Policy KB Adopted 5/9/2014
 MESD Board Policy KB Adopted 5/9/2014
The agency needs a communication plan to support internal (staff focused) and external (district, partner, community) focused communications. By working with an independent auditor with skills and expertise in ESD communications, MESD will meet the following MESD policy goals & agency needs and reap the following benefits:
● Ensure that MESD provides meaningful opportunities to seek and use public input on issues affecting the operation of MESD
● Deepen district and partner understanding of the goals, needs and accomplishments of the total educational program
● Ensure the construction and maintenance of a planned, systematic, two-way process of communication between the Board & Superintendent and MESD employees, component districts and the community
● Ensure the use of a variety of communication channels including meetings, letters, circulars, seminars, publications and personal contacts
● Ensure that MESD has the information sharing and discussion channels necessary for resolving difference and eliminating misunderstandings
● Ensure that MESD encourages informal as well as formal communication
The Communications Audit will include and result in the following:
individual and small group interviews with staff and stakeholders of MESD (see staff and stakeholder engagement matrix for details)
● Analysis and summary of interview comment similarities and common themes
electronic survey to be emailed to staff and stakeholders
Analysis of Current Communications
with staff who are responsible for communications ie. webpages, newsletters, social media, parent letters, staff correspondence, communications with districts etc.
● Review and analysis of how communication functions are staffed, how departments are utilizing services, how communications projects are identified and tracked, what kinds of entrepreneurial possibilities exist
● Review, analysis and written summary of MESD printed and electronic materials in terms of messaging, visual appeal, impact, user-friendliness and timeliness. This will be done for internal and external audience marketing and communications materials. It will include specifically the Ask Jim Blog, videos, the all-staff email, All Access newsletter, social media (facebook, youtube, twitter) advisory councils, publications (Accountability Report), department newsletters, and other tools.
● Recommended strategies and infrastructure for enhancing agency materials, messaging and communication to internal and external audiences.
● Recommended strategies for internal & external communication protocols
● Staff and client feedback about the communication efforts and tools will also be reflected in this section
Website Navigation & Design Review
● Review, analysis, and written summary of website appeal, functionality, site map navigation and design impact
● Recommendations on improving the site based on customer/intended-user feedback
Final Report & Summary
● Summary of all data gathered from the interviews and surveys, observations, and materials
● Recommended strategies to help MESD reach its communication goals
● Summary handout and PowerPoint presentation to share data, findings and recommendations to agency and board