Tips for Understanding Your Audience

By Cheril Lee

Why is it so important to understand the audience you’re speaking to and targeting with your messaging?

If you don’t present the message in a way that appeals to or makes sense for your target audience, you’re literally accomplishing nothing. Thinking about it another way, it’s like writing a press release in a language different from the one your target audience speaks. Even with pictures, much will be lost in translation.

Understanding your audience 101

We all know this starts with basic demographics such as gender, socioeconomic status, age, occupation, marital status, etc.

But when you’re trying to send targeted communication, it’s also crucial to understand the psychographics of your target.

What the heck are psychographics? Things like personality, values, interests, hobbies and behavior.

There is a lot of work involved in understanding your audience but the good news is that, once you’ve figured out who they are and how to approach them, your media efforts have a much greater chance of success.

Four great ways to find out what you don’t already know about your audience:

  1. Check out online reviews and gather data from these. As suggests, online reviews provide tons of “voice-of-customer” language. Think about all the elements that go into a review, including positives, negatives and customer queries. Online reviews from places such as Yelp, Amazon or Google can provide you with a wealth of information about your potential audience and that includes the best way to create messaging for them. Actionable messaging.
  2. Take it to the streets. Well, the virtual streets with Reddit, Quora, Facebook Groups, anyplace potential audiences might be chatting. It’s important to see what’s being said. This can give you a good idea of how to enter the conversation.
  3. Likewise, if you are posting social media content as part of your PR efforts, it’s a good idea to monitor the level of reader engagement. Are people liking and sharing certain posts more than others? If so, take a look at those posts and see what stands out. Then you can replicate that success with future posts.
  4. And while we are on the subject of social media, it is also a good idea to see what other content these same individuals are engaging with as this could help you identify more topics for your messages.

Two mistakes to avoid when considering your audience:

  1. Never changing the tonality or messaging of your media efforts to fit specific audiences. There is no one-size-fits all public relations effort that will hit every single person the same way. Messages need to be customized and crafted to target specific groups.
  2. Not interacting on social media. Many companies post on social media but the key to successfully reaching your audience lies with interaction. It’s the difference between talking “to” someone versus talking “at” them. Simply posting static content is not enough to engage with your audience. What does that mean? It means liking posts, sharing posts, commenting on them and responding to comments on your posts.

The right planning approach can drive a successful public relations strategy, connect with your audience on a deeper level, and inspire the public to act.

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