Secondary Research on Publics
Environmental scanning of the public relations problem accurately identifies what research needs to be done. Researching the problem identifies who is involved and who is affected. Then the relationship the publics have with the organization must be analyzed. This will establish the target audiences and publics. After target audiences and publics are identified, more research must be done about the publics to better understand the publics and to help communicate with the publics.
The following approaches can be used to define and describe publics:
- Geographics: Provide an indication of where to find who is involved.
- Demographics: Sex, age, income, education, marital status and religion can describe why or how people are involved.
- Psychographics: The psychological and life-style characteristics that help describe people involved.
- Covert Power: People at the top exert power over others. Discovering who is a covert power can take time and careful observation, but will be worth it.
- Position: Certain people hold positions of influence, such as doctors and teachers. People in these positions can influence a broad range of citizens.
- Reputation: Opinion leaders are useful because others see them as knowledgeable and influential. Identifying opinion leaders can be difficult. One way to identify them is through an open-ended question in a survey.
- Membership: Organizational members in associations or community groups should be included as a public.
- Role in Decision Process: Discover who plays a key role in decisions related to the organization. This public will be small, but influential.
- Communication Behavior:Publics that do not recognize a problem are called "latent" publics, while publics that recognize the problem are called "aware" publics. Four types of publics exist based on communication behavior: a) publics that are active on all levels, b)publics that are apathetic on all issues, c) publics that are active only on issues that involve nearly everyone in the populations and d) single-issue publics.
While the nine approaches can all be successful, all of them do not have to be used. The point of them is to end up with an accurate definition of the publics. One thing to remember about publics is that they are not static, they vary depending on the problem and organization. By researching the publics, the knowledge, predisposition and behaviors of the publics will be identified. The research is used to increase the understanding of the publics, which will help determine program objectives for the organization.
Created by: Amy Colson
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This site is © April 2001, Amy Colson