It’s easy to become focused on the tactics in public relations. It can be sort of fun to plan big PR events, prepare new brochures, and write press releases. They say that speaking without thinking is like shooting without aiming: I would assert that running a PR campaign is the same. Running a stellar PR campaign will be about as useful as driving a car with out wheels if you don’t know who you are talking to.
A school district public affairs director could have many audiences he or she needs to target. They may want to target parents to encourage them to be more involved in their students lives. High school students are another audience if you wish to encourage them to avoid drugs and violence. If your district is hiring, you may want to target graduate students from a local college. Where do each of these groups receive information? Would it be effective to use Facebook to target parents? Would you want to use a televised news clip to target high school students? Do potential teachers read the paper?
Here are a few things you need to find out about an audience:
Who are they: What demographic group are you targeting? Simply targeting teenagers isn’t enough. Teenagers in San Francisco, California are likely going to be much different from teenagers in Rexburg, Idaho. Teenagers at the public Seaside High School will likely be different from students at the private St. Peter‘s Holy Cross High School (both names I invented, just FYI).
Where do they turn for information: Do they attend town hall meetings? Are they likely to attend an event with a pop star DJ? Do they have a Facebook account? Do they watch the evening news? Or do they watch Jay Leno? If you mis-target your ad campaign, your audience will never get it.
What are their key interests: What drives your audience in life? What do they want? It is important to know what your audience’s key interests are. What are their needs? How can your company, service, product, or message satisfy that need? If you misinterpret your audience’s key interests, even if they get the message they probably won’t care.
Give them a name: An excellent public relations professor taught our class to even give your key audience a name. For example, if you were planning a PR campaign to promote a new online job search tool, you might target someone like Joe. Joe is a 40-year-old man from Atlanta, Georgia. He works for a power plant and makes $35,000 a year. He watches Stephen Colbert every night and checks the Internet frequently looking for a new job.
Putting a face and a name to your audience helps you to humanize them. It connects you with what they need in life. Faceless masses usually won’t be very helpful to your cause. Public relations isn’t just about serving the needs of your employer (although that is paramount). PR is about creating value for your publics so that they can act in their own self interest.
About the Author
Derek Gurr is a public relations student at BYU and a writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers can be of great assistance to those that are trying to locate and register to go to the best online universities.