Effective public relations writing relies on the important steps of:
- Identifying one or more intended audiences
- Effectively researching these audiences
Public relations focuses on building relationships between organizations and different groups of people, and it’s difficult to forge or grow a relationship without investing the time to get to know those people.
This may include exploring information from basic demographics to psychographics, lifestyles and a deeper understanding of a target audience’s wants, interests and needs.
Many organizations invest in paid research tools that give them access to robust and timely information on different groups of people. There are also plenty of free sources of information. You might choose to target a certain geographic area based on U.S. Census Bureau data showing that a large number of people in a certain age range live in that area. Or you might consider an older target audience based on a Pew Research Center study showing that young adults in the U.S. are reaching key life milestones at a later age. Or you could suggest targeting Gen Z with a product or service based on a McKinsey Health Institute survey showing that their social media engagement can feel negative but also can help with finding mental health support and connectivity.
You can also conduct your own primary research. Talk to people in the target audiences, do an interview or survey, conduct a focus group. If you have a strong need and the budget to gather quantitative and statistically significant data from a larger audience sample, you can also pay to conduct research.
Research shouldn’t stop with one significant piece of research. The goal is to build a robust enough consumer profile that you feel you have a strong understanding of where and how to reach the target audience. You have a firm understanding of what they want, have interest in or need (audience WIN: wants, interests, needs). An understanding of how they like to communicate and where they get information. Then you’re in a position to pair that with what you know about your brand and objectives and look for the sweet spot where your organization can benefit the target audience in a way that also helps the organization achieve its objectives.
Gayle Saunders is the founder and CEO of The Saunders PR Group, a full-service public relations firm, specializing in strategic communications planning, diversity, inclusion and equity communications, media relations, community engagement, diverse outreach, media buying, stakeholder management, and crisis/reputation management.
In the video below, Saunders talks about the importance of audience segmentation and audience research and some of her best practices.