Part II: Audience Analysis
As I mentioned in part one of this series, this step in the communication planning process should happen early to avoid messaging pitfalls (like too much, too little, mis-alignment, etc). Understanding these key points will help you understand who you should target based on their roles, interests, and knowledge:
- Identify the primary audience(s). These folks are your main, intentionally targeted recipients of your compliance messaging. In some cases, you may have only one primary audience. Other times, you will have multiple. Your primary audience will be the people who are most affected by the compliance issues you identify through processes like risk assessments.
- Meet them where they are. In order to prepare your content, consider your audience’s knowledge and behaviors, as well as their challenges and perceived benefits of what you are conveying. The tone of one message may not be as well received from one group to another, which is why identifying those characteristics is an early step in the planning process. Don’t forget to consider your audience’s demographics, access to technology, location, languages spoken, and other factors that could affect the way you communicate to them.
- Identify the secondary audience(s). Your secondary audience, though not most affected by the compliance situations you’ve identified, will still have an impact on your messaging. The secondary audience members may be key influencers, decision makers, or other members of senior management. Understanding who these people are early in the process will help keep your plan on track throughout the year and allow you to gain the necessary internal support of your initiatives.
- Identify the tertiary audience(s). In many cases, organizations will find they have some tertiary audiences to consider. This group is made up of other groups or individuals who are also competing for your primary audience’s time. When these groups are internal, align your strategy with theirs to avoid conflicted messaging and over-communicating (which will be discussed in Parts 3 and 4 of this series). When these groups are externally based (like the ever-distracting social media), they are much harder to control. It is still important to understand who these audiences are so you can prepare accordingly, and not get lost in the wash.
Communication Tip: To further understand your audience at each level, put yourself in their shoes. Consider how the tone and content, as well as delivery method, will affect their understanding and reception of your messaging.