PR Tactics for Finding Your Audience: ‘Everyone’ Is No One

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Marie Baker of Bayer

Think of the last thing a brand shared online that resonated with you. Not something that just gave you a quick chuckle or made you say "that's nice," but really made a connection with you.

Would it also have made a significant connection with your boss? Your 12-year-old nephew? Your mother? The guy who works at your local convenience store? Donald Trump? Chances are, in most of those cases (if not all), the answer is "no." That's because when something connects with you, it's speaking to the unique qualities about you that make you an individual: your personal style, the kind of music you like, your fears, your dreams. It's almost impossible to imagine something that has broad enough appeal to make a meaningful connection with everybody.

That's why Marie Baker, senior manager, social strategy and community at Bayer, cautions against answering the question "who is your target audience?" with the all-too-common answer "everyone." As she discusses in PR News' upcoming Visual Storytelling 101 Webinar this Thursday, "everyone" is no one. Try to appeal to the whole world and you'll end up with bland content that gets ignored. Here are some of her first steps for storytelling strategy:

  • Narrow down your audience(s). Focus on the highest priority targets and avoid making your audience too generic. Saying that your audience is “consumers” or “influencers” is basically the same as saying "everyone." Take the time to drill down to the specifics: dads with preschoolers, high fashion bloggers, science geeks. Those are audiences you can really work with.
  • Understand audience behavior. Where does your audience spend the most time with content? Radio, social media, television, mobile gaming? Which radio stations? Which social media platforms? Specificity is the rule here as well.
  • Be mindful of preferences. It’s not just about the channels, but also what kind of content your audience consumes, e.g. funny, hard-hitting news, pretty pictures, action sports. You need to speak your audience's language to have any chance of getting your message across.
  • Figure out the relationship. Know how your audience feels about you. How do they talk about you? What do they say? What tone do they use? What do they want from you? Whether your audience already likes you or has a negative perception of you that you want to change, it's crucial to make an honest assessment of where you stand in regard to one another.

Now that you've targeted a specific audience, find out what Marie Baker (and speakers from McDonald's and Solomon McCown & Co.) say you should do next in our Visual Storytelling 101 for Communicators webinar on Dec. 17.

Follow Marie Baker: @marieveebee

Follow Ian James Wright: @ianwright0101