I came across a recent article in PR Week that got me thinking about target audiences. News editor Rose Gordon wrote a great piece, citing a recent Commerce Department report revealing that about 40 percent of Americans don't subscribe to high-speed Internet at home, while a staggering 30 percent of Americans don’t use the Internet at all. In a world where many of us are consumed by mobile devices, social media and other platforms of communication, there is still a large group of people that have yet to join the masses.
Currently, the Obama administration and Congress are trying to bring affordable broadband connections to everyone. They believe universal broadband is an essential component to economic development. While some people simply do not have the means to afford Internet access, there are still a number of folks out there that just do not see the value of the Internet. As a PR professional, I am constantly trying to stay one step ahead of the next big trend in communication. Whether it is Twitter, podcasts or blogging, we are continually looking for new ways to include our clients in the conversation. But what if a core audience is not listening?
There are many ways to learn about a client’s audience. One that I have found useful is issuing a simple survey at a user or industry conference. These surveys easily pinpoint the customers that are reading about your client’s area of expertise, and identify the various platforms they are using to get their information. Individuals often get stuck in their social bubble and fail to think about what is important to others. For example, if a client’s target audience is independent software vendors, they may not be as engaged on Twitter as quality management professionals. Moreover, some audiences might not be utilizing the Internet at all; in which case a traditional print media campaign might work best.
Ultimately, the biggest takeaway is to identify and know your client’s core audience. Gordon makes a great point when she states that the findings of the report present a huge opportunity for new services from not-yet-discovered companies or even brand new platforms to change minds that an online community is rewarding in a number of ways. This is a great opportunity for PR professionals, who have been presented with the challenge of devising creative ways to reach every audience.
By Danielle Mandragona