Name: Reema SammourCourse :BCOM 670Professor: Dr. RosendaleSubject: Communications Audit Report of Walmart Inc.Abstract We all know that Walmart is the world’s largest retailer and company by revenues. The main purpose of conducting a communications audit is determine the effectiveness of the company’s communication strategy. The report will present the finding of the communication audit and the channels the company used to communicate with its both internal and external stakeholders. Executive Summary Walmart Co. is a multinational corporation that first began and is headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas. It was founded in the year 1962 with its main goal of providing the best discount goods enable customers to live a better life. Walmart became public in the 1969 to help facilitate the achievement of the vision. It is known to operate in 11,00 store both nationally and internationally and carry a wide variety of products such as foods, toys, clothing, households, etc. Walmart has around 2 million employees worldwide and is considered valuable to most people. The communication audit report reviews the communication processes by examining the certain media and channels the the organization uses to communicate with its stakeholders. All the data collected was by conducting a communication audit from the organization’s stakeholders.Objective of the Communications AuditMy mom works as an associate at Walmart’s store in our Indiana branch for the past two years. During this period, she has been acquainted with the organization’s leadership, business processes, goals and operational strategies. Other than providing everyday low prices to customers, Walmart tends to commit itself to maintaining a climate of positive communication with its stakeholders (Walmart Inc., 2015). However, in recent years, a rift has developed between the company’s leadership and various stakeholder groups, particularly shareholders and employees. An audit was recently conducted when the company’s operations revealed that ineffective communication systems were partly to blame for the growing rift between the company and its stakeholders. Based on these revelations I sought Indiana’s branch manager’s permission to conduct a communications audit to determine the effect of the same on our branch. The overriding goal of the conducted audit was to seek facts and perceptions about the company’s communications strategy from customers and employees, and to consequently propose recommendations that could ensure improved public relation management, greater stakeholder involvement, and enhanced two-way communication between the company and its internal and external stakeholders (Downs & Adrian, 2012). This draft report, however, only prevents the findings of that particular audit; the recommendations are still being drafted and will appear in the final report that will be submitted to the branch manager. Nature and Scope of Audit Walmart Co. has a wide number of stakeholder groups such as customers, shareholders, employees, suppliers, lenders, etc. Owing to cost limitations, it was not possible to include representatives from all of these stakeholder groups in the audit. As a result, the audit was limited to only two stakeholder groups which are the employees and external customers. Moreover, the audit was limited to the company’s at Indiana’s branch. The overriding assumption was that both the strategies and methodologies used in communication are similar across all of the company’s branches both nationally and internationally. Audit information was collected in two fundamental steps. First, consultant samples from the company’s communication policies, news clippings, booklets, handbooks and newsletters were reviewed to determine the various strategies, media and technologies used in internal and external communication. Two half-hour focus group meetings were held with the participating employees in the store. Group 1 consisted of employees between the ages of 20 and 35 whereas group 2 consisted of those 36 or above years of age. The auditor figured that the two groups would have different views in regard to their most preferred communication channel and medium. No focus groups were held to obtain views from participating customers; the auditor had a labeled spot near the store’s exit. Customers willing to give their views could do so willingly after being notified of the same by the rest of the staff inside the store. Participation in the audit was voluntary. However, in order to be eligible to participate, an employee needed to have served at Walmart for at least 3 years or more. This was a measure to ensure that participants were well-acquainted with the organization’s processes and communication strategy. Information Captured in the Audit The audit sought to determine the main media, channels and technologies used in both its internal and external communication in the organization. Communication Channels used at Wal-Mart Communication channels were defined as the means through which people communicate or pass information across to others (Newsorm, Turk & Kruckeberg, 2012). The following five communication channels were identified: electronic communication, mobile communication, written communication, broadcast media and face-to-face communication (Newsorm et al., 2012). Employee Focus Group 1 Responses Group 1 consisted employees between the ages of 20 and 35. This group identified that both the electronic and written communication channels as the channels that are mostly used by the organization to pass information to them. The written communication was identified as the most commonly used channel, although some participants indicated that they preferred the electronic channel, instead. One participant indicated that the written communication was considered old school, and the electronic communication was the way to go. The employees cited speed and convenience as the primary reasons why they preferred electronic communication to written communication. Five employee pointed out that they would be more comfortable reading an email or taking a quick glimpse at the company’s website than stopping at a corridor to look at a poster. This employee suggested that the organization developed a culture of communicating information through both means so that individuals could subscribe to that which they felt more comfortable with. Mobile communication was identified as the third most commonly used channel of communication within the company. Apps such as WalmartOne were used to communicate new initiatives in-house, and were appreciated by employees as they allowed them access to real time information about what is going on in the company. Broadcast media and face-to-face communication were used to communicate with employees. The latter ranked lowest, with a significant number of employees indicating that they had not seen their supervisors for the past 1 month. Three participants mentioned that they did not consider face-to-face communication a good channel because even when employees attend meetings, they have no power; someone else makes the decisions. According to these participant, face-to-face communication would work better if employees were given an opportunity to participate and the power to change things around the organization. Employee Focus Group 2 Responses This group of employees identified that written communication was the most commonly used channel for top-down communication within the company. Posters were identified as the most common form of written communication from within the company. This group showed preference for written and face-to-face communication. Two participants pointed out that they had not checked their email in months, and did not even know how to maneuver through the different sections of the company’s website to obtain new information. Electronic and mobile communication were not considered the most preferred channels of communication for this particular group, with participants suggesting that the organization develop a culture of organizing meetings or conferences to pass important messages across to employees. According to participants in this group, the organization’s reduced use of face-to-face communication is driving it to lose touch with its employees. External Customer Responses Customers identified electronic sources, broadcast media,and written communication as the channels that they mostly relied on to obtain information on new offers and initiatives at the company. A majority of respondents mentioned that they relied mainly on the company’s website for new information; older respondents, however, mentioned that they mostly relied on word-of-mouth referrals from friends and family, TV, radio, print journals and magazines for new information about the company. The Wall Street Journal and Walmart newsletters were identified as the most common forms of written communication used by the organization to pass information across to the world. Specific Communication Media used at Wal-Mart Communication media were defined as the specific tools used for communication within the identified channels (Chandler & Munday, 2011). Media for Communicating with EmployeesThe company used Posters, Fliers and Weekly Newsletters that were identified as the most commonly used forms of written communication used by the company to communicate in-house. However, most participants shared negative views about the way posters were used to communicate information. Seven participants mentions that the posters were designed in a way where they seemed low quality and seemed to be unattractive to many. Many suggested to not use this method at all due to the lack of quality. According to these participants, newsletters and flyers, which are used to a much smaller extent than posters need to be used more because after all, they can be carried home, allowing information to spread to a wider range of people. The Company’s Website and Staff Portal: The organization’s corporate website came out as one of the strongest forms of electronic media used for in-house communication at Walmart. Employees tend to check the website for scheduled events, job postings, news briefings, and any new initiatives. Some participants complained about the website’s design, saying that the site was rather complex and presented challenges for users attempting to locate specific news items and events. The staff portal was portrayed as being more manageable in terms of delivering in-house communication. Two participants pointed out that once you log in to your account, all the information and new happenings for the day were just there on the home page. Wal-Mart Email: Group discussions showed that the company often used email to communicate with its employees. However, participants indicated that their use of the company’s email was limited by security concerns. Four participants mentioned that they were shunned from using email because they never were able to tell whether an email was genuine, or it was a result of a virus attack. Two employees, that constantly shop at the company made reference to a specific instance when they received an email from the company thanking them for placing an order for a HP laptop and a Samsung smart television. Upon taking a closer look at the email, one had discovered that someone had hacked into his email address and placed an order for the same using her billing address and payment information, except with a different delivery address. The employee mentioned that if he had not moved in time to cancel the order, he would have been a victim of fraud. His case was presented in the BoardingArea blog. Such security concerns limit the extent to which employees use their employee emails as a medium for in-house communication. Mobile Apps: WalmartOne app is used to communicate new initiatives and job opportunities to its employees. Employees indicated their appreciation for such apps and commended the organization for introducing the same. Meetings and Forums: Media and Forums are mainly used to pass information to small groups of employees but their use is severely limited since the organization often prefers using the other four mediums to communicate in-house. Media for Communicating with External CustomersWalmart’s corporate website was identified as an important source of information for its stakeholders, arising job opportunities, and updating best price deals and providing access to new product and service offerings. Customers including I have been having quite of a difficult time finding certain items needed on their website and have suggested to update the website on a regular basis and give it a new design to that. Another communicating media was the print media that include newspapers, brochures, magazines, the Wall Street Journal and the corporate bulletins. They were identified to be commonly used by the company to communicate with its external customers. The third communication media is the Broadcast Media & Social Media. The organization used the TV , the radio, and the Savings Catcher app to communicate updated price deals to its internal and external stakeholders and making them aware of the new product offerings which they can save up a lot on. Moreover, through its pages on social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter, the company is able to communicate such deals and market its new products to both new and existing consumers (Gray, 2012). Communication Technologies used at Wal-Mart WalMart Co. tends to use a wide range of communication technologies to enable them to transport data to both its internal and external stakeholders. The consultant samples presented by the organization for review showed the company’s use of Walmart email , chat services, the short-message services, video conferencing, blogs such as WordPress and Boarding Area, and micro blogging services such as Twitter Document (Yuan et al., 2013). Conclusion Walmart Co. is the known to be one of the world’s largest corporation by revenues. The preceding sections have presented a picture of the organization’s communications strategy along with the specific elements that ought to be changed to make the strategy more effective. As has been demonstrated, Walmart Co. tends to rely on a variety of media to communicate with both its customers and associates. Types of media used for communication include the Walmart.com email,the staff portal, the corporate website, social media networks, meetings and conferences, and the Walmart mobile app. After reviewing the Audit findings, it looks like the company needs to change its communications strategy to reflect the preferences of its customers and employees. Employees of young age preferred electronic forms of communication whereas the employees of older ages preferred written and face-to-face communication. Care should be taken into consideration to balance the preferences and communication needs of different employee groups so that the communications strategy chosen would benefit all parties equally.