Lora Postelwait Hutson's blog about all things related to media, public relations, media writing and design.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
It's Not About You: Focus Your Attention On Your Audience
Powered by all the resources available through social media, organizations now have opportunities to converse directly with their audiences. We can't focus only on broadcasting general messages through the mainstream media. Now we find out who our "buyer" is and we talk directly to him or her.
In the PR world, we usually use the words “publics” or “audiences” instead of the term “buyers.” But David Meerman Scott uses the term buyer personas in his excellent book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, and to be consistent with him, I will use the term "buyers" as an inclusive term for any audience you are trying to reach, such as donors, volunteers, subscribers, students, etc.
FOCUS ON THE BUYER
The most important point to remember as you develop a marketing, PR or social media plan is to focus your complete attention on the buyer. It’s not just about your organization or your service or your product. Scott writes, “Without a focus on the buyer, the typical press release and media relations program is built on what the organization wants to say rather than what the buyer wants to hear.” Instead, you must focus on the buyers and develop relationships with them.
To have a strong conversation with your buyers, you need to first find out more about them. Most often, you will be targeting more than one type of buyer. In the old media world, an organization would use a wide brush to use the mass media to try to reach all their audiences with the same general message. Today, we need to use a narrow brush to reach specific, targeted audiences.
Scott calls these niche markets “buyer personas.” We need to create specific messages to target these buyer personas. We need to know how our buyers think and what matters to them. Scott says organizations should “target specific buyer personas instead of using a one-size-fits-all campaign that targets everybody and appeals to nobody.”
You need to do basic research on your buyers by reading what they read and trying to think like they think. Do interviews with people that are in your targeted buyer persona. Also, follow your audiences through social media. Have conversations with them on Twitter and Facebook.
Once you create your buyer personas, you can then begin forming specific programs and plans to reach each buyer persona with compelling messages and material that is relevant, useful and interesting to them. Thus, it's time to walk in your buyer's moccasins and start finding out what they think about your organization and your products or services.
I'm an assistant professor of communication at Rochester College. I specialize in teaching public relations, media writing, publication design and media studies. I'm trying to learn as much as I can about new media strategies.