The cardinal rule of effective public relations is knowing your audience. Broad-based PR programs are destined to fail. So too, are programs targeting multiple audiences with a singular strategy as messages become diluted. The intended audience may not realize it is being addressed. The call to action will not be clear. Money and time will be wasted. Management will be angry. Heads will roll.
Accurate definition of an organization’s key audience is more critical than ever, especially in the current economic climate. Audiences that will contribute to the company’s growth must be continuously evaluated and re-evaluated throughout the life of the organization.
Complete assessment of key audiences helps define markets which in turn aids product development which lends itself to proper marketing strategies and finally to an efficient and effective PR program. If the PR team not correctly identify its most important and appropriate audience or customer(s), successful media strategies are impossible to develop.
For instance, customers can be classified into two groups. One is the traditional customer that buys the company’s goods or services. The other is the shareholder as they "buy" the company itself in the form of equity.
Both types of customers have a stake in the company. Both expect value for their investment. Their purchases represent faith in the prospects of the company.
Management and employees are internal audiences and are the backbone of any successful PR campaign. Management must buy (there’s that word again) in to the program and incorporate the resulting messaging into their decision making.
Employees, especially in sales, have ongoing dialogue with customers. What they say should support what customers see in the media.
The internal PR manager’s customer is management and the product managers. The PR agency’s customer is the PR manager, management and the product managers.
And don’t forget the receptionist who is the first ambassador to the outside world.
The media is a hybrid customer as it is a consumer of information and a communications channel.
Another audience to consider is perspective hires. Focused PR programs aid recruitment. Who wouldn’t want to work for a dynamic and visible company?
Accurately identification of an organization’s audience helps in determining priority for reaching those audiences and allows for efficient budget allocation.
Knowing the audience also helps in determining the most effective means of reaching them. Not all audiences are created equal. Most have different and often competing means of receiving, sending and sharing information.
This is true in good times as well as bad.