Last week I attended the Public Sector Communications Conference. It was a great day, with really interesting speakers and useful conversations with my fellow delegates to develop ideas further. It was the sort of day where you go home with a spring in your step and ideas buzzing round your head!
As you might expect, there were distinct themes that came through the whole day. The importance of audience insight – understanding what makes them tick, as Emma Leech, Director of Marketing and Advancement at Loughborough University, put it – was reinforced over and over again. Once you know what your audience cares about and what they are interested in, then you can evaluate what that means for what you are trying to achieve. If you want to bring about change, you need to use this insight to work out how you can move people’s thinking, attitudes and actions, based on their starting point. Theirs, not yours.
I always talk to my clients about the importance of identifying the audiences they want to communicate with and really getting under their skin.
“Effective communication really isn’t about you, it’s about them.”
That doesn’t mean you can’t communicate about the things that are important to you, but you need to know about any gaps or potential gaps between you and your audience.
One of my most popular LinkedIn articles was about understanding your internal audiences and there is definitely a growing recognition of the value of insight. So where do you start if you want to find out more about your audience? What can you do to gather data that is meaningful and ripe for evaluation?
There are many different ways to find out about your audience’s attitudes and what they want from you. Here’s just a few ideas to get you started:
However you gather your audience insight, the key thing is to remember to work out what it means for your communications. And then to apply that learning to everything you do.
If you are looking for help in getting audience insight, please do get in touch – sometimes it can help to have an independent person to ask the questions and analyse the answers for you.
Until next time