Refining your target groups: clarifying ‘the general public’
By Dr Jane Ilsley
When planning your science communication, a key initial step is identifying who you need to communicate with.
You may want to communicate with the whole world, but is it realistic?
Target groups such as ‘the general public’ and ‘communities’ are often cited in communication strategies – these sound like good groups to communicate with, but you need to zero in.
When you start asking questions about them – such as “What do they already know?”, “What are their perceptions?”, “What do they want to know?” and “How do they like to receive information?” – you start to realise that the ‘general public’ is actually everyone, and it is too difficult to answer these questions about such a far-reaching group.
Scientists and farmers talking about farmers’ forecast needs. Image: Econnect Communication
The more specific your target groups are, the easier it will be to generate tangible tasks for the implementation plan that puts your communication strategy into action.
A more specific group may be cattle farmers, grade 10 students studying science, or your specific industry group. We recommend you interview representatives of your target groups – don’t assume you know their needs.
You can then shape your plan to meet the needs of who you really want to communicate with.