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PR Planning: The Target Audience

Note: This post was originally published at and was moved to BizAmmo upon that blog’s reorganization.

You’ve very likely heard the phrase “target market,” and know that it refers very generally to a group of people you’re trying to “sell” to with your marketing efforts. In public relations, you don’t have a target market; you have a “target audience.” What’s the difference, and how do you identify your target audience?

The target audience of a PR campaign is sometimes also referred to as a “key public.” Your audience or public is quite simply the group of individuals that you’re trying to reach with your message. For example:

  • Are you trying to reach current customers? Former customers?
  • Are you trying to reach your own employees? Investors?
  • Are you trying to reach residents in a specific neighborhood?

Similarly to identifying a target market, you’ll want to be as specific as possible in evaluating the demographics, and psychographics, of your target audience or key public. Let’s look at an example, based on one of our previous sample problems:


Our organization regularly needs volunteers. We have an untapped audience of potential volunteers at a local college campus, and if we can mobilize this group, our events can be more fully staffed. (For this example, let’s be more specific and say the organization is a Christian church which regularly holds events to benefit members of the community.)

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Target Audience

Our target audience might be Christian students at the local college campus, who have access to transportation to get to the events, have available time during the day on weekends (assuming that’s when most of the events are held), and who are members of a fraternity or sorority where volunteer work is encouraged or required (especially if groups of volunteers are needed for each event, rather than individual volunteers). Depending on the specifics of the event, you could narrow it down further to new attendees, students in certain income brackets, students in a certain program of study, etc.

You need to establish early on who the end recipient(s) of your key message should be, in order to reach your PR goals that you’ve established.

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