Understanding your audience is key for succeeding. Whether you are leading an organization, a business, a charity, or any other project that requires public support, you need to know who you are targeting. Likely, an informal approach to understanding your audience (e.g., using just common sense) won’t yield the best possible results because you may be missing specific groups or targeting too widely. Let’s take a look at the concept of “publics” in PR to see whether you have all your bases covered. PR defines the public as a group that is directly or indirectly affected by an organization or that affects the organization, also directly or indirectly. So, which publics are there?
The non-public is the group you should not be focusing on. These are the people who are not affected by your organization and do not affect it in return. They are not interested in what you offer and are not going to become involved later on. You can identify your non-publics according to their demographic characteristics (for example, adolescents will not be interested in life insurance) or do more in-depth research to define the characteristics of your non-publics.
2. Latent Publics
If you are not reaching an audience, it’s highly likely that it’s the latent publics you’re missing. This concept refers to people who are unaware of the connection they have to the organization (and the other way around). By reaching out to this group and making them aware of their connection, you can create long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. This group doesn’t recognize the potential problem they have, so by creating awareness, you are building their loyalty, as you have helped them identify an issue.
3. Aware Public
The aware public is the group who knows that there is an issue but who are not necessarily taking active steps to solve it or who are not actively involved with your organization. PR agencies, like GoodNoon, try to involve this audience as much as they can in their campaigns. You should be working on crafting “call to action” messages that target them specifically. This group is one step closer to being active, but they still need a little push to get organized or become involved with the organization.
4. Active Public
The active public category are those who are already aware of you and taking apart. They might be your best customers or the top activists working in the field. To reach the active publics, you need to offer clear support for their activity and may provide additional solutions and tools to help them direct their efforts towards something productive. Your active public can be a significant group of stakeholders you need to take into account when making decisions.
5. Non-traditional publics
You might have traditional publics – the ones you have a long-lasting relationship with. You should try to continue and support this group rather than taking them for granted, as you will probably understand their needs pretty well. But you can also have non-traditional ones that you might not be considering this group at all. Look around and consider the groups that you might be neglecting. Who do you affect and who affects you?