With any public relations campaign a key ingredient is getting to know your audience, and what matters to them, so that you can attract their attention and engage with them in meaningful ways.

Failing to adequately research your audience can have devastating effects. Think about the backlash the Woolworths and Michelle Bridges frozen meal marketing campaign received. A video which labeled their audience as ‘freaks’ caused a flurry of fury on social media forcing Woolworths to withdraw the video.

The Victorian Taxi Association’s #Your Taxis campaign was also hailed as a failure after their audience bombarded the Twitter campaign with taxi horror stories.

What these examples show is that if you don’t intimately know your audience, you just won’t know how they will react to your campaign. That’s why it’s important to take the time to do some research prior to going public with your messaging.

Define your audience

Don’t be tempted to simply focus on potential customers as your target audience. There are many other audience subsets out there that you could and probably should be communicating and engaging with, such as:

  • Existing customers
  • Suppliers of products that complement your own products
  • Local community
  • Professional bodies and trade organisations
  • Special interest groups
  • Thought leaders and influencers
  • Suppliers
  • Partners
  • Competitors
  • Press and media

Build an audience profile

Once you have an idea of who your audiences are, you want to think about their characteristics. Consider the following to help build a broad picture of who they are:

  • Where are they located?
  • What are their demographics (age, gender, income etc.)?
  • What are their attitudes, values and lifestyle?
  • Do they behave in a certain way?
  • Where do they get their information?
  • What is their preferred method of communication?
  • What problems do they have that you could help solve?

Ask your audience questions

If you really want to get to know your audience you could go as far as conducting research by surveying people. Holding focus groups to find what type of messaging or branding resonates with specific demographics can be very effective to refine your campaign before launching it to the public.

Belinda Galbraith is a communications consultant and freelance copy writer based in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales.