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.

Want to save the library? Burn books

This is an old case study but always a great reminder of the power of being creative in public relations. Take a look at the video below:

The reason I love this case study is that it highlights the need for strategy to power your communications campaign and why you need to be bold about making a statement that will leave impact on your audiences.

This campaign could have taken a very different turn, a very bland one, if the campaigners had stuck to a standard – inform the public, push the yes vote etc etc.

A strategy is the lifeblood of a campaign. It is what makes the campaign different, what makes it stand out and what powers the messages, content and tactics.

So how do you come up with strategy?

Thinking about the strategy for your communications campaign is where you get to be creative. A lot of people assume that creativity in communications comes in creating content, but it actually starts in the strategy stage.

Your strategy is where you take the cold hard facts from your research that have helped you understand what you need to achieve and combine them with your creativity to come up with a new way of tackling the subject with your audience.

Think about the example of the Troy Library – some of the tactical and content elements of the campaign were creative (i loved the book burning book bags) but the real creativity came in developing the initial book burning idea itself.

Do you have a campaign or a communications topic that you are currently trying to tackle with your audience? What books are you going to burn to make your message stand out?

Says David proud to be a part of the Victorian Government’s Marketing Services Panel

I am pleased to note that Says David Communications was accepted recently on the Victorian Government’s Marketing Services Panel.

Membership on the Marketing Services Panel is required for any marketing or public relations firm undertaking work with any Victorian Government department or agency. I look forward to working with and supporting the great work that is done by Victoria’s state government.

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?

The things I have learnt from parenting blogs

As most communication and public relations professionals would be well-aware, in our industry you need to keep up to date with the happenings in a range of different offline and online mediums that are relevant to your clients. This is compounded when working in an agency environment where you need to keep up to date with a number of industries at the same time.

This element of agency work is attractive to my easily bored Gemini personality, as my work at Fentons has seen me get into the world of emergency management, deal with government at all levels, get my head around the professional services industry, become an expert on water and electricity supply (there was a point where I could name all the major connecting powerlines in Victoria as we drove past them) and meet a number of wonderful people in my work in the community sector.

Lately, I have been continuing my focus into the world of parenting. While I don’t have kids myself yet, I am the proud uncle to four little ones, including a nephew who is now five days old.

Part of my focus into the world of parenting is keeping up with Australia’s mummy and daddy bloggers, which helps to keep abreast of what is happening in the home. What I have found, however, is that the musings from parenting bloggers are quite relevant to those of us without kids as well – which explains their popularity in Australia.

Here’s some examples:

  • On Tahlia’s The Parenting Files you will find a funny story about surprises that parents find in the bathroom. Not that indifferent to some of the surprises that you find living with housemates. Except its cuter when kids do it.
  • You’re never too old to have a Spiderman birthday cake
  • There are some great tips for the kitchen. Thanks to One Crafty Mama for a great post on spice storage. The number of spices in my kitchen has been doing my head in for a while now.
  • As Rhianna on A Parenting Life‘s recent post shows, there are always distinct advantages to leaving things to the last minute…..

Thank you for some great posts (there are too many to mention!).

Integration- the key to social PR

At Fentons we have been working with our clients to help them integrate social media into broader marketing communications plans, rather than looking at online activity as a stand-alone activity.

This integration is essential in ensuring that you are ‘singing from the same song-sheet’ to your target audience, regardless of whether they are viewing information on your website, reading a brochure or talking to one of your staff.

Read the rest of this post at the Fenton Digital blog.

Ensuring our students are prepared for the PR of now

Great post in social media today about the need for universities to ensure that PR students have the business acumen to place strategy behind the social media that they are increasingly native to.

It is scary to think that there are still courses out there who are only looking at social media as the big thing of the future, when in reality it is here and now. Read the post at the link below