MEDIA: Identifying Your Target Audience


Most organizations, when asked, “who is your audience?” will reply, “the general public.” Indeed, when you watch a group’s media coverage on the 11 o’clock news, it appears that the group is talking to the whole world, the public. But the whole world isn’t watching the 11 o’clock news. For example, studies in the United States show that those with college degrees and adults over the age of 55 watch the news more than anyone else. So, any organization that aims to get their event covered on the 11 o’clock news is most likely to reach college educated and senior adults as their demographic.

The general public is too vast. We will have to spend way beyond the limits of our budgets to target “the public.” Note that even corporations within many countries do not attempt to target “the public.” You need to think about the “public” in segments, e.g., voters, youth of voting age, urban youth of voting age, urban young women of voting age, etc. You see how you can continue to refine each segment to a more specific or finer slice of the public? The process of refinement is known as finding your target audience.

Who is your target audience?

Your target audiences are the individuals, groups, communities and bodies of decision-makers who can influence your campaign target. Your campaign target is the individual or individuals who have direct decision-making power over the issue your organization is working to address.

Sometimes your target audience is the campaign target and sometimes it is not. For instance, a health clinic that is working to increase awareness about the growing rate of diabetes among the elderly by encouraging them to attend seminars at the clinic will likely have the same campaign target and audience.

Campaign Target: the elderly because they have direct decision- making power over their attendance at the seminars. Target Audience: the elderly, because they can influence the decision of the target, themselves. If the same clinic decides to increase awareness about the growing rate of diabetes among children, it is likely that the target and target audience are different.

Campaign Target: children with diets that increases risk of diabetes. Target Audience: parents because they have a great influence over children’s diets.

From the examples above, it’s clear that defining your target audience requires you to have clear goals. Once you’ve clarified your campaign goal, ask the following questions to help you identify your target audience:

• Who needs to hear your message?

• Who has influence over the target of your campaign?

• Who must be moved to action so your goals will be met?

• Who has the greatest impact on the outcome of your campaign efforts?

It’s okay to have more than one target audience.

Most nonprofit groups have at least two target audiences. The first is the organization’s base, clients, or constituents. The second is the organization’s donors, funders and supporters. A third target audience might be a variety of individuals based on the specifics of the campaign and issue.

Next Steps – Getting to Know Your Target Audiences

The point of refining your audience is to zone in on the exact individuals and communities who can assist in making changes that your organization and your community desire. Refining your target audience ultimately saves time and resources because you can focus your campaign and efforts from the start.

To better understand your target audience – where they stand on an issue, what motivates and drives them – consider doing the following: research any data from ally organizations on the same target audiences; conduct your own focus group of a sample target audience; consult with surveys and polling results compiled by large polling and research firms, organizations that poll on current events, as well as smaller polls conducted by local newspapers and local groups.

Once you’ve identified and come to understand your target audience, you’re ready to develop the strategies and messages to reach them. Rest assured that your communications efforts from here on will be more focused and effective because you are getting your message to the right people!

© SPIN Project –