4.14 Who’s the Audience for Public Relations?

Public relations professionals ask a similar set of questions when they are doing their strategic planning research. Again, these questions apply not just to the audience aspects of the message task but also to the other parts of the information strategy process.

  • Defining the problem: Monitor audience knowledge, opinions, attitudes, and behaviors to answer the question, “What is happening now?” among our stakeholder audiences? In our industry or area of activity? Sometimes your goal is to help your client provide good customer service to the audience. Sometimes the goal is to positively affect audience members’ opinions. You need to understand what you are trying to accomplish in order to be successful in reaching the audience with your PR message(s).

  • Identifying the stakeholder audiences: Who has an interest in or to whom might the public relations message be addressed? Sometimes you are focusing on a single stakeholder and sometimes you need information for an entire campaign which would address a variety of stakeholder concerns.

  • Planning and programming: Use the information gathered to determine what should be done to most effectively reach your stakeholder audiences. What type of message(s) will best address your goals and engage the audience?

  • Taking action and communicating: Design a message or program to meet specific objectives by answering the questions: “How do we do it and say it to reach our audiences?” If your goal is to create content that encourages audience members to share (in other words, for them to become your “advocates” through word-of mouth-endorsement), you have to ensure that the content is useful and easy to share.