There are infinite ways besides the media to get your message out to the community. From advertisements, community events, promotional items, the options are endless. But deciding on how you are going to share your message isn’t enough; you also have to decide on the right target audience.
It goes without saying your company will always have information that the media will find newsworthy. But if you’re only relying on the media to get your message out, then you’re missing a large percentage of your community. That logic would have held true 10 years ago, and is especially true today as fewer individuals are watching television news and the readership for newspapers continues to decline nationwide.
Sharing your message with a wider audience begins with an analysis of who you are as an organization and a focus on the individuals who would be most interested in what you are promoting. Where you chose to share your message can make a difference in reaching your target audience.
Consider these examples of the right and wrong audiences for different organization’s messages:
- An area that is largely populated by senior citizens is ideal for promoting services for seniors, discount prescription plans, or retirement communities. But it would be wasteful spending money to advertise where a large segment of college students or young families are living. The same holds true for direct mail marketing. Is your literature on programs for retirees going to those who are eager to receive it, or families more interested in the latest clothing for toddlers?
- It would make sense to post yard signs in as many yards possible of a district where a candidate you represent is running for office. But making sure they are not placed in yards of residents living outside the district is good business sense. Sure, someone who actually lives in the district where the candidate running may see a sign in the yard of a non-district resident, but the potential return (in this case winning someone’s vote) would be minimal. Targeting the right audience assures you are spending your money in the right place.
- An advertisement promoting the hottest new clothing or must-have electronics would be perfect in a magazine for young people, who normally have disposable incomes because they have not started families yet. But placing an advertisement for children’s toys in a publication read mainly by people in their late teens and early 20s would be a waste of advertising money. Most consumers in that age range are not parents yet and are more interested in the latest clothing or electronics for themselves.
Determining the age specific group for some products is simple, as illustrated by two of the examples above. But there are other areas that have to be considered based on what you are promoting: income levels, voting patterns, racial makeup, etc. All of this information is available from different sources. It is your job as a public relations practitioner to obtain such data and utilize it as part of your public relations plan.
Once you’ve decided who your target audience is, a decision has to be made about how you are going to promote your organization. Remember, the sky is the limit. Public relations professionals have a range of options available to them in sharing their message including billboards, television commercials, advertisements, and promotional items.
The decision on what works best for your organization is yours. Be bold and creative. Don’t be afraid to fail. Just because something did not work for another company doesn’t mean it will not be effective in getting your message out.
In addition, there are also several traditional methods of sharing information that should not be neglected:
- Newsletters, updates, advertisements or whatever other means of communication is appropriate for you organization that are mailed to donors, supporters, customers, etc.
- The Internet. Web sites with information that is current, relevant, and easy to locate. Telling someone they can get information on your site and then making it difficult to find defeats the purpose.
- Make sure your name is known in the community. Judging student competitions, helping with community efforts, partnering in civic programs are all invaluable in putting your name before the public.