PR for the rest of us: Audiences

One of the cornerstones of effective public relations – and something often missed by people who think they’re doing PR – is the idea of building relationships. It sounds hokey, doesn’t it? “Public relations is building relationships with your publics.”

But who are these publics? You have to know that before you can build any relationships.

Since I’m writing this blog for all kinds of businesspeople, I’ll leave it to you to pick the word below that best suits your needs:
audiences
publics
gallery owners
distributors
customers
patients
readers
buyers
consumers
donors
agents,
editors
manufacturers
vendors
exhibitors
. . . (you get the idea)
.

In a nutshell, whatever word you prefer, these are the people you’re trying to affect. Right? Simple as that. You want these people to do something. You want them to buy your products or publish your work or give your organization money. Maybe it’s not about money directly . . . maybe you want them to tell other people about your products or to donate time or to learn something you think is important. Bottom line: You’re communicating with them so they’ll take action.

Most people I know who think about PR, feel like it’s a burden. Part of the problem is that they don’t spend enough time defining and looking at their audiences (that’s the word I like best). So their choices are quite limited even though, paradoxically, they may seem very broad.

Defining audiences is key to successful PR. The obvious reason is that you can target your efforts to specific groups. The less obvious – and in my opinion, more important –  reason is that you’re going to find groups of people that you want to be in communication with, not just those with whom you have to.

Of course you’re not going to like every audience you want to influence, but you can certainly start with those you understand and enjoy the most. Can’t you?

Why not?

It’s common sense. If you’re having fun, you’ll spend more time doing PR. It won’t feel effortful or like a horrid chore. And guess what? The more time you spend doing PR, the more likely it’ll have an effect.

Let’s say you’ve decided to open a Vietnamese restaurant. In addition to your current audiences: produce and meat vendors, industrial supply salesmen, employees, the health inspector etc, you’ve also got to attract customers or you won’t make any money.

Everyone who eats out has the potential to be your customer, right? Sure. But let’s go deeper. Why did you start the restaurant in the first place? I bet you had certain customers in mind already. Are they other Vietnamese people? Fans of Asian food? Adventurous eaters? People who adore noodles? People who want more fresh veggies in their lives? People who shun the typical fast food fare? People who love ethnic cuisine?

Some PR experts might advise you to go for the biggest audience – that giant “everyone who eats out” group.

Not me. I’m into being happy and enjoying what I do.

I’d tell you to focus your initial efforts on two or three of the smaller groups – those well defined audiences – that you like or respect already. You’ll naturally develop stronger relationships with these groups because you already understand them better than the others. You’ll spend more time thinking about how to reach them effectively – which will make you more effective. Yep. It is simple after all.

Next week: building relationships
Until next time,

Pari

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