One of the things that, arguably, derails more communications programmes than any other is not knowing who your audience well enough. It’s one of the most neglected parts of every strategic comms plan.
I always remember back in the 90s [it may still be true now] that The Guardian was fabled for the granularity of the data it had collected about its readers. It didn’t just know what proportion was male or female, what age brackets they fell into and what job they did… The Guardian knew, with a large degree of accuracy, the likely names of its archetypal readers, how many children they had, it could also hazard a guess at their names and ages. It also knew the make and model of the car driven by the average Guardian reader, their salary and their hobbies.
This data enabled it to put together a newspaper that it knew readers would want to read. It could instinctively know how its readers would react to a column or news story, the sort of pictures it needed to use and, most importantly, how to engage its readers.
In a world where your target audience is bombarded by more information than ever before, via more channels of communication than ever, on more devices than ever knowing your audience is more important than ever. So, before you start on your next PR, marketing or social media campaign ask yourself how well you know the intended audience [or public]. What publications do they read; which social networks do they use; what are the top three problems they are trying to overcome. If the answer is ‘not very’, then perhaps it’s worth investing some time and money before spending time, money and resource on a campaign that may fail to deliver the results you’re looking for.