The Importance of Audience Insights for Public Relations

Originally published on the Affinio Blog

The world of public relations is evolving

Public relations, like most industries, is being disrupted. Public relations and marketing in general used to be focused on mass audiences — or — the one-size-fits-all model. Today, reaching the widest possible audience is no longer the name of the game. How we reach, market to, and think about audiences has transformed.

Today media is fragmented, and reaching and understanding how audiences consume content is challenging for PR firms. There are hundreds of TV channels, news channels, publications, apps, and more. Newspapers and news media are less relevant today in the sense that people don’t have subscriptions to magazines and newspapers anymore, but they still consume news. Consumers are just consuming their news and content in different places and ways.

Niche audiences are king in PR

Defining an audience, determining the appropriate messaging, and identifying the right communication channels always was, and still is, a critical step when crafting any public relations strategy. But how public relations firms create client strategies is changing. Thanks to media fragmentation, it’s very difficult for most PR firms to craft strategies that reach the audiences the way they did when the one-size-fits-all model was king. There is no longer one channel that reaches everyone and there is no longer one message that can be shared. Audiences can no longer be considered homogeneous.

Today we are living in an age where niche audiences rule. And each niche audience requires different messaging and communication strategies.

Audience insights must inform strategy

To reach and understand niche audiences, public relations firms must employ new tools and techniques and rely on quantifiable audience data. Instead of relying on gut instincts and speculation, firms must access rich audience insights that pinpoint which of the hundreds of TV channels, news, magazines, apps, etc. resonate with their client’s audience.

Firms must be able to target with precision and use quantifiable audience data to prove to their clients they are on the right path and making the right strategic decisions. Client’s want the most return on investment and they want to feel confident that their message is being shared with the right audience at the right time.

One way firms can determine who their consumers are and what they want is by leveraging interest-based segmentation. Burson-Marsteller has invested heavily in the creation of a number of innovative proprietary tools that address this need but companies like Affinio also really help to make this possible. Affinio clusters and segments audiences into naturally-occurring, unbiased clusters, by looking at who or what they choose to follow. Immediately firms have a lens to look at niche audiences and what makes them tick.

Audience relevance is the new reach

Without advanced audience insights, firms are taking a shot in the dark and depleting a client’s budget to gain minimal results. In order to deploy a successful public relations strategy, an intimate understanding of the niche audiences you are trying to reach, and advanced audience insights, is a requirement. In today’s fragmented media environment, relevance is the new reach.