Smart communications professionals prepare well-thought-out objectives and tactics in the planning phase before ever presenting a list of measurable outcomes to the C-suite. But before naming these objectives and tactics, PR professionals need to know exactly who their intended audience is. Building personas—semi-fictional representations of individual archetypes within a brand's ideal audience—is a crucial step in pinpointing the ideal target group for any PR or communications campaign. Britt Klontz, account supervisor at Weber Shandwick, shares the three richest sources for persona building, below:
Market research data. It's likely that your organization or client already has access to white papers and other resources detailing consumer priorities and demographics in their industry. Get curious about spending habits, locations and needs of potential audience members. A few questions you might ask: How old are your target personas? Where do they spend their time online? Are they impulsive buyers, or risk averse?
Social media data. Take a look at who your brand is already engaging on social media for a clearer picture of typical personas within your industry's reach. Klontz cites Followerwonk as a great tool for gathering Twitter analytics to build personas. On Facebook, she suggests Insights, a feature included in all Facebook Pages, for collecting basic demographic data like geographic location and the time of day your audience is logging on. Instagram user data availability for brands is just over the horizon, with Facebook gradually rolling out Instagram Business Tools as of August 2016.
Customer, prospect, and sales team surveys. Where possible, collaborate with your brand's sales team (or whichever team is doing the most direct client outreach) to trap crucial audience data. Are there particular questions the sales or marketing team could be asking in their surveys that might sketch a more specific picture of your personas? For example: Are they excited about the newest gadget? Is aesthetic highly valued in their buying habits? Is the presence of a warranty likely to drive up trust of a particular product or company? Figuring out what matters to your personas—and what bugs them the most—is critical to ensuring a well-targeted, cost-efficient campaign that the C-suite will love.
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