Why you should not trust Tracey to know your audience

Tracey is a communications professional and also a married mum with two kids under ten. So naturally, when the organisation she works for wanted to create a campaign targeting parents with young children, they used her to test their campaign strategy.

But the truth is that Tracey doesn’t really know mums.

She knows mums from her school, who live around her particular area around Melbourne, who are from a particular socio-economic group. She’s comfortable knowing what impacts mums that are just like her, but the truth is that not all mums are like Tracey.

Why is knowing your audience important?

It doesn’t matter how big or small your communication is – whether it is a multimillion dollar campaign or developing a brochure, knowing your audience is central.

Not truly understanding your audience can have a cascading negative impact on your communications that impacts the messages you use, the tactics and channels and most importantly- the results that you will achieve.

Knowing who you are talking to, who they are influenced by, the media they consume and what their day typically consists of is essential if you are trying to create a piece of communication that cuts through and has impact.

It is important to realise that not every communication agency or department will have the expertise in every audience. Worse yet and do not fall into Tracey’s trap of thinking that the person in your office (or communications consultancy) who fits that description is suddenly an expert on that audience.

I am a single gay male who has successfully worked on campaigns targeting dads, on early childhood health, campaigns to increase rates of breast screening for women and campaigns targeting seniors. As a communications professional you understand that your expertise is in knowing how to help your client understand and target their audience.

So how do you get to know your audience?

There are a number of ways that you can get to know your audience. Some of these can be expensive, but some need only time. Try the following ways:

  1. Define the audience – before you start any research, work out exactly who you want to talk to. Be specific as possible.
  2. ABS data – Use freely available ABS and council data to understand the size and demographics of your audience. You will be amazed how much data is readily available through these sources.
  3. Service data – Look internally at any data that you may already have about your customer or audience. This can be formal research data or information about how your audience utilise your service and/or product.
  4. Research – Research can take many forms, from simple survey monkey surveys, to nationally weighted surveys, focus groups and interviews. They are all powerful methods in understanding your audience.
  5. Observation and media analysis- Review online spaces as well as media publications targeted to your audience to understand how your audience are engaged and how those competing for a share of voice are targeting them.

So…. who is the Tracey in your office?

PS… Tracey is not a real person but the first name that came to mind. Sorry to any Tracey’s on my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, I’m sure you can be trusted. Really.

So why do we need to communicate?

It is rare when I tell someone that you work as a public relations consultant that people instantly know what you are talking about, which is ironic for an industry that centres around communication.

Communication is one of the most basic elements that makes up the social fabric of our world. The ability of humans to be able to tell, listen, inform, explain, persuade, read, write, draw and watch is what allows us to organise towards a common purpose.

As a public relations and communications consultant, my role is to look at the way that organisations are communicating and ensuring that their communication is the most effective for its audience and its purpose. It may be looking at how an organisation communications as a whole (communication strategy), how it communicates to meet a specific objective (a public relations campaign), how it deals with potential threats (issues management), how it engages with the community (community engagement) or how it deals with specific audiences (internal, stakeholders, media).

How does it differ from marketing?

Marketing’s purpose is the create and bring to market a product that meets the needs or adds value to the target audience.

The purpose of public relations is much broader and deals with all of the groups that an organisation must deal with to make sure it has a positive environment from which to conduct its business.

Think of these groups and how important it may be to communicate with them:

  • Your employees who are the face of your product, service and organisation
  • Government authorities who create the regulatory environment for you to operate in
  • Media who can give third-party endorsement to your products, company and brand
  • Unions, professional bodies and your industry (including your competitors) who may have an impact on your operations or on the standing of your industry
  • The local community in which you operate

While public relations can be used to directly support marketing, think about how difficult it may be for an organisation to conduct its business, if it loses the relationship with any of the groups above?

Community TV moves well ahead of commercial TV

What do the commercial TV stations do with their money?

TVS has just released its own iPhone app to allow viewers to stream their shows live on their phones. Excellent work, but why are our community stations leading the way?

Network Ten‘s iPhone app, I have to say, is crap. It has very little content, mainly news, and six of their worst shows. Seven are still a no-show on the iPhone, as is Nine.

As yet, no-one apart from iView, has an app that’s designed for the iPad.

Get it together.

…,” says David.