One of the first steps in strategic public relations is identifying who you want to reach with your message. Who are the priority groups of people you need to reach to make an impact? To most people, audiences and publics are the same, but from the perspective of PR, they are different. Audiences are merely people who pay attention to a particular medium of communication and receive messages through it. A public is a group of people who share a common interest in a specific subject, such as stockholders, employees or community residents. Each group is concerned with a common issue: the price of the stock, the wages of the company or the building of a new plant. Of course another type of public may be customers - people who receive the products or services of an organization.
We need to keep in mind that there is no such thing as a general public. Each public is linked with an organization in a unique relationship. So, it’s important to recognize that relationship and reinforce it regularly.
But, before you can relate to your key publics and target them effectively, you need to understand the qualities they possess. Consider the nature and characteristics of your key publics. What are the major wants, interests, needs and expectations of each public? What benefits can you offer this public? What are the advantages your product or service can offer this public or how you can help satisfy its need or solve its problems?
Once you have a clear understanding of the characteristics and motivations of your target publics, you can develop your messaging and determine the best channels of communication to get your message across. This can often be a challenge. These 4 steps can help simplify the process:
First, consider each key public’s relationship with the organization – how the organization impacts on the public and vice versa.
Then, study the public’s communication behavior, such as the media channels it uses. Identify people who might be credible message sources and who are its opinion leaders.
It’s important to identify the demographic traits such as age, income, gender, socioeconomic status or other relevant information about each public.
Finally, consider the personality preferences of the public, including its psychological temperament. Knowing the personality of the key publics can make communication more persuasive and effective.
Building, strengthening and maintaining an organization’s relationships with its key publics is a cornerstone of effective public relations. For more information on how to build relationships to reach your target publics, please contact the JPR Group.