The Power of Knowing Your Audience

By Riley Sims

The field of public relations is rooted in communicating with the public and creating a favorable impression. However, it’s important to realize that the public isn’t a homogeneous group. We communicate with various stakeholders who have different values and needs. As PR practitioners, it’s important for us to craft our messaging with a variety of different groups in mind.

The Growth of Media Consumption

There once was a time where nearly everyone consumed the same types of media. There were only a handful of TV channels to watch and news was largely limited to newspapers and local and network TV news. Today, there are more tv channels than we can count, numerous streaming services, countless online news sources and the ever growing rise of social media. Media has grown from serving a broad audience to being able to offer niche options that suit a variety of interests. Audiences can pick and choose which media they consume and when they consume it, meaning as PR professionals, we need to figure out how best to reach them.

The Fear of Falling on Deaf Ears

With the growth – and division – of various media audiences, PR practitioners need to be diligent on what channels we use to reach their audience as well as the messages they communicate. Smart practitioners must invest in research and put themselves in the audience’s shoes to figure out what their interests and values are, and what information sources they trust. If we don’t select the right channels, then we risk missing key audiences altogether. On the other hand, if we choose the right source(s), especially those that are trusted, we are able to reach them and possibly leave a good impression.

Messaging also matters in this situation. When we are crafting our message, we need to constantly ask, “Why does this matter to our audience?” Different audiences will have different views and needs. This especially rings true in crisis communication when there are a variety of stakeholders with different concerns.

Be Cohesive with the Brand

Something to keep in mind when tailoring your messages to various audiences is to maintain cohesion. Keep the client’s mission and values  top of mind when crafting these messages and let it serve as a guiding light. While communications with different audiences may not be exactly the same, you must maintain brand consistency. You may highlight different value propositions to attract different audiences, but the messaging should remain consistent. If you feel like you’re stretching too much to reach a certain audience, consider not targeting that particular group.

The power of knowing your audience is key to communicating effectively with them. Long gone are the days of talking at your audience. We must dive deeper and wider to reach key targets with relevant messaging.