My daughter and I each keep a list of funny quotes from one another.
One of my favorites is when she told me: “I keep getting these ads for billionaire romance novels. And I’m reading a book about self-sufficiency. They’re barking up the wrong tree!”
Clearly, even Amazon and “friends” make mistakes when it comes to knowing their audience.
But knowing your audience is critical when it comes to public relations. After all, how can you deliver the right solutions – and send the right messages – if you lack clarity about your audience and the pain points, needs and aspirations of that target group or groups?
Ask What, When, Where and Why – But Don’t Forget the Who
Yet as a PR writer, when I ask sources to whom they are speaking, they are often unsure. And in my past work as a journalist, the PR folks who pitched me were frequently unable to identify their clients’ target customers and often lacked an understanding of my reader audience.
That’s why one of the first questions I ask in every client content interview is to whom is this article speaking? That way, we can work together to make sure the articles on which we collaborate speak to the pain points, needs and aspirations of their specific target audience.
Understand Why Media Outlets Exist and What Reporters Want
But identifying your audience from a PR standpoint should start far before the writing process.
The PR professionals who pitch client stories to media must do their research upfront to identify the proper media outlets and reporters for each client and, ideally, every client pitch.
This involves understanding the reach and readership of media outlets and discerning whether or not they’re a strong match for PR clients. It also requires learning what each reporter is covering and when. PR teams get best results for their clients when they truly understand reporters’ unique approaches to considering pitches and building stories.
Deliver Value – Don’t Just Take Valuable Time
Research is what it takes for PR to provide the proper information in curated pitches that will appeal to the most relevant outlets and reporters and get clients in front of the right audiences. As one of my colleagues recently noted, you can’t pitch the same article to a business publication and technical publication. These different outlets have two different audiences.
That’s why quality PR involves asking the right questions of clients, doing research about media outlets and reporters’ interests and approaches, and asking both what they want and need.
When PR fails to do that, it can elicit a response from clients and media similar to this one from my then school-age daughter: “These people are just taking up so much of my time on Earth.”