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paul stallard's pr blog

How can PROs make the connection between great coverage and reaching the right audience?


Written by Paul Stallard

Anyone who has been involved with creating a PR or marketing plan will understand that thinking in the now is not enough. Audiences constantly change. You need research that helps you look ahead. Understanding your audience is pivotal to the success of any communications strategy – both now and in the future.

A key part is to know who they are and how best to talk to them. Customer research can empower businesses with the knowledge needed to make successful communication decisions.

Unfortunately, the old adage ‘rubbish in, rubbish out’ is still the basis of too many PR strategies. Scatter gun mail outs with quantity put over quality is frequently seen.

It sounds obvious, but too many people take a gut feel approach about the publications they should be talking to or just look at the reach figures of a title. This is such a dangerous approach. If you are making strategic decisions that can impact where you will be sharing your message, surely you want to do this with the most accurate information possible?

One of the main problems that the industry has had to face is trust in the media. Research by (my) full service research agency Arlington Research highlights the worrying nature of the problem with just over a quarter (26%) of UK adults surveyed saying that they trust the media in relation to their consumption of news stories over the last six months. Trust is highest amongst 18-24 years olds (31%) and lowest amongst those aged 55 and over (22%). On top of this, just under half of the respondents (46%) agree with the statement fake news worries me in relation to their consumption of news.

Savvy businesses now understand that by using research, they can reduce the amount of time and money that might otherwise be wasted on activities that will be wide of the mark. By using quantitative research, in depth analysis via qualitative research and an audit of customers you can get a clear understanding of who your audience actually is. Understanding demographics will help focus the mind on where efforts should be placed.

For example, just under a third of UK adults surveyed (32%) get most of their news from social media, caring more about the story than the media title that wrote it. Just over half of respondents (53%) stated that they rarely buy a daily newspaper.

Equally interesting is that 32% of 18-24 year olds prefer video news compared to just 4% of those aged 65 and over.

If your target audience is identified via research as one of these demographics you should know the titles to target and the ones which will be less relevant.

Video is also significantly more popular as a format for news amongst adults in London (26%) when compared to all other UK regions apart from Wales.

Once you have identified the channel it is also really important to understand what makes that story jump out.  33% of the UK adult public agree that the use of statistics increases their trust in a particular story. If a stat can’t be found a proof point is equally important as 36% of the people surveyed said that without one, a news story is just fake news.

Understanding who your audience is, what media they consume and how you can ensure the story resonates is essential. Not only will it help you find the right audience, it will also help you structure your story and highlight what is important to them.

Without doing this properly you are navigating a ship without a map or compass and it is going to be pot luck if your plans actually fulfil any of your marketing or business objectives.