Whether you're branding your whole organization or running a campaign with a limited shelf-life, clear communications flow from an informed understanding of your audience—and, ideally, a tight focus on a particular group that you want to reach. Easier said than done. How do you determine priorities when you have so many stakeholders that are all important for different reasons?
It starts with defining your organization's goals and a sense of the strategies you'll use to achieve them.
Let's imagine that one of your organization's key goals has to do with reaching (and influencing) members of Congress. Does that mean that members of Congress are the primary audience for your communications?
It depends, of course, but you may decide that in order to reach those members of Congress most effectively, what you need to do is mobilize their constituents. Maybe you would even focus on a specific sub-set of those constituents, who can help organize and motivate their neighbors.
If so, that small group is the primary audience for your communications—the people you need to reach out to directly, inspire to action, and equip to message on your behalf. It's not that members of Congress aren't a part of your plan—far from it. It's just that the message you want to send doesn't reach them through your logo or tagline or even your website: it reaches them through the voices and faces of your supporters. Your strategy (i.e., mobilize grassroots activists) for achieving your goal (i.e., influence members of Congress) determines how you think about your audience for communications.
The same applies if you're considering asking your most enthusiastic supporters to fundraise for you, or making alums a key part of your recruitment cycle.
It sounds obvious, but it can be hard to do in the moment. So if you find yourself at a loss when it comes to identifying your communications targets, take a step back and start with your goals and a sketch of your strategy for making them happen. The right audience for your campaign or brand will pop into focus.
This article was originally posted at Big Duck's blog. Big Duck is a communications firm that works exclusively with nonprofits. We focus on three different areas—brandraising, campaigns, and training—to help organizations reach supporters, build awareness, and raise money.