How Many Target Audiences is Optimal for a Media Placement?

Our author shows how to define four target audiences for a media campaign.

Imagine you’re a Vice President of Communications. Your company just received industry awards for product capabilities, customer service and employee experience. You need to deliver the news quickly to continue accelerating organizational credibility, name recognition and financial growth.

As your creative and marketing teams put together stacks of content which will incorporate the awards, your media team is also notifying stakeholders through press releases and interviews. But unlike social media or a newsletter, it’s not as simple as posting content to create engagement and start people down your sales funnel.

Targeting the Audience Closest to the Content

Media exposure requires reaching at least four target audiences to even begin creating worthwhile engagement. The first being those closest to the content.

The person who actually signs off on media content. That might be you, as VP—or any of the other C-suite executives who are as likely to be spokespeople and decision-makers on key media content. The message has to be framed correctly to further the organizational narrative and stay true to the spokesperson’s voice. For example, you may have a spokesperson who can conduct an amazing e-mail interview while waiting for a plane—but who is too shy for TV or radio.

Targeting the Right Media Outlets

Additionally, are you reaching the right media at the right outlets? Your human resources VP, for example, probably won’t be happy explaining your employee retention strategy to a political podcaster while representing a CPA firm.

The gatekeeper. Once you’ve gotten the internal sign-off, it’s time to convince producers, editors, reporters, and show hosts that your content matters. While all media outreach must include the Three Ts, there are other factors to consider when these decision-makers receive hundreds of pitches every day, such as:

  • Who are you targeting? Every gatekeeper has different responsibilities and goals. Reporters need to get stories out, while editors are splitting attention between writing, editing and assigning. Hosts are often hard to reach, while producers are often protective of their boss' time and content.
  • What kind of placement are you seeking? Sending a piece of written content to be published by a TV producer is embarrassing—and a waste of everyone’s time.
  • How does the gatekeeper prefer to be reached? Some like direct messages on X (formerly Twitter), while others prefer e-mail. And is your media relations team skilled at crafting pitches that stand out on both relevance and style?

Targeting Media Outlet Audiences

The outlet’s immediate audience. These are the people whom the gatekeepers have allowed you to reach. They are probably your organization’s main targets (if they’re not, be ready to defend yourself to the bosses!). Just as with gatekeepers, each audience is going to need a tailored approach. For example, niche industry audiences will expect you to show how your awards add value to the industry, so be detail-oriented with content. Everyday readers will need a simpler approach, while also catching their eye with possible entertainment value.

Targeting a Potential Audience

The final entities to influence. This audience isn’t always present—sometimes, you just want people to consume your media coverage and become customers/employees/investors, etc. Other times you may want your audience to make a further impact, perhaps on your behalf to a government agency or influencing corporate action. Whether promoting ticket sales for an event, raising brand awareness for a product, or moving the public to vote or engage on a policy matter, your placement has a purpose.

The final audience is also the first. The C-suite must be convinced that the placement is right before you send a pitch—and, after all audiences have been reached via the initial placement, downstream coverage, re-publishings, newsletter, round-up citations, social media posts, newsletters, and owned media—they must be convinced again that it was the right call. It’s not your grandfather’s earned media world, which is why we always say that press is good—but surround-sound marketing & branding is better.

Dustin Siggins is founder of Proven Media Solutions.