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Identify Your Audiences

Identifying who you want to communicate with and why you want to communicate with them is a critical step in effective communications. You will want to tailor your core message to reflect the priorities and characteristics of each of the audiences you identify. For example, you may decide that the best way to advance your initiative is to have teachers go to their administrator and voice their support and to have parents attend a school board meeting. How you reach these different audiences, what you say to them and what you ask them to do will be different even though your core message remains the same.

  • Start by thinking about your goal and listing what activities you can do to make it happen.
  • Who should you reach to advance your goal? List all your potential audiences—who should you communicate with in order to make changes in your community? Include:
    • People you would like to have on your Action Team
    • Elected officials
    • Decision-makers in relevant agencies and organizations
    • School board members
    • Parents
    • School employees: Teachers, staff, and administrators
    • Professional associations and individuals
    • Health providers
    • Community organizations and agencies that support children and families
    • Civic leaders
    • University leaders
  • Target Audience(s) You probably will not be able to reach all of the audiences you identify, so prioritize them by concentrating on those who will have the most impact on advancing your goal. These will be your target audiences and you will focus your efforts on them. Your target audiences can be narrowly defined to an individual or expanded to broader populations, such as voters or parents. The important thing is to focus your efforts on those audiences that will be most helpful to you. Make sure you have a clear understanding of why you want to reach them and what you want them to know or do. Note, however, that your target audience(s) may change as your initiative evolves.
  • Learn as much as you can about the audiences you have decided to target:
    • What are common characteristics that you should know when communicating with them?
    • What are their priorities?
    • Are there obstacles in reaching them? How can they be overcome?
    • What are their attitudes towards your initiative?
    • What is the best way to reach them? One-on-one meetings? Small groups? A public forum? Social media? Phone calls? Email? Other?
    • Are there terms and phrases that will be more effective than others?
  • If possible, interview a few key stakeholders in your selected audiences in order to gauge their priorities and motivations and, possibly, helping to tailor your messages.
  • In pursuing your target audiences, recognize that your message will probably spread beyond them and into some of the other groups you identified.

See the Tools and Resources section for worksheets to help identify audiences.

Updated March 2018