How to identify your target audience in PR in 4 simple steps

Mar 14, 2022
5 mins

As a startup, one of the most critical factors for success is identifying your target audience. Without knowing who your potential customers are, there could be a lot of wasted effort in your marketing and PR activity.

Understanding your target audience not only lays the groundwork for successful PR and marketing strategies but also aids in determining the most effective channels to engage them.

In this article, we'll outline four simple steps to help you identify your audience and start speaking to them through earned media.

Step 1 - Market Research

Market research involves collecting and analysing data about your potential customers to better understand how your product or service serves them.

From online surveys to focus groups, and social media listening tools - there are loads of ways to conduct research to understand their demographics, interests, and behaviours of your target audience.

Step 2 - Understand Your Product or Service

With a clear idea of who you’re selling to, next you'll need to identify your unique selling point (USP) and the problem it solves for your customers.

This step is crucial because it will help you understand how best to sell it, and the motivating factors driving people to buy your product or service. This applies to all B2B, B2C and D2C businesses.

Step 3: Use SEO to define your audience 

As part of your market research, an SEO analysis could help you understand what your audience is actually searching for and a simple way to do this is through Google search. As you type, suggested search terms will appear offering a really valuable indication of what others are searching for.  

Another way to use SEO to help define your target PR audience is through Google’s ‘People also ask’ function.

Step 4: Analyse Your Competitors 

A critical step in understanding your target audience is through your competitors. By looking at their marketing strategies, you can gain insight into who their audience is and what communication methods they're using.

Start by researching other brands’ websites, social media pages, and press releases. Look at the language they use, the content they share, and the audience they're reaching. This analysis can help you identify gaps in your own market and PR messaging while differentiating your brand from competitors.

It’s important to remember however that just because a brand in your industry is using a specific strategy or tactic to reach an audience, doesn’t mean it’s working. 

Raw Organic Dog Food - A Case Study

Market research: By analysing internal buying data and running social listening assessments, you understand that your existing consumer is primarily made up of young adults between 25-35 with high income and no children, as well as older adults with grown-up children in their 60s and 70s. You identify there's a gap in the market for dog food appealing to the former, so this is where you choose to focus your PR efforts. Now, you know how to tailor your messaging and distribution to reach 25-35 year olds vs the older generations.

Defining your USP: Your unique selling point is that your dog food is raw and organic. You can assume that, due to the health benefits of such a diet, your consumers are conscious about their dog's health and well-being, and probably their own.

SEO: To understand what your target audience are actually searching for, you head to Google and begin typing ‘best dog food’, or 'benefits of organic dog food'. Google is likely to suggest similar search terms, like ‘best organic dog food’ or ‘best healthy food for dogs’, or 'here's why you should feed your dog a raw diet'.

Competitors: You monitor the news and social media to understand how your direct, and indirect competitors present themselves to their target audience. You read comments on social media to understand their consumers thoughts, feelings, (complaints!?), and can use these pain points in your own messaging.

Identifying your target audience is critical for startups

Understanding your audience is the starting point for all marketing activity, including public relations. 

These four steps should help you gain insights into your potential customers, what they're interested in, and how to communicate with them. This knowledge will help you tailor PR to effectively reach your target audience and differentiate your brand from your competitors.