At the broadest level, “audience” is simply anyone you communicate with.
Three global IABC principles serve as guideposts for building audience-centric communications: engagement, context and consistency.
Great, you say. But how do you get from A to Z, from three principles to actual, successful audience-centric campaigns?
At a recent virtual Pro Series Workshop, Ed Kamrin, SCMP, accomplished strategist, founder and principal consultant at Kamrin Communications, led a lively discussion about just that, creating audience-centric campaigns by linking three IABC principles with three…superpowers!
Superpower #1: Storytelling
Creating engaging and consistent messaging is critical to making sure audiences tune in, not out. Enter superpower #1, storytelling. Embracing and channeling this superpower will help you be consistent. As a storyteller, you’ll use a single voice with all stakeholders. You’ll create a clear, compelling and consistent narrative. Should an old voice come creeping back in, as storyteller, you’ll channel your superpower to spot and correct any issues.
At heart, consistency means shared messaging that speaks to diverse audiences, not identity or rigidity. As long as people are “singing from a shared song sheet” or affirming the same shared message, they can contribute their own styling — jazzy, bluesy, country.
The best key messages speak directly to the concerns of the audience, build energy and excitement, and outline simple action steps.
Superpower in hand, your messaging will rise above any noise.
Superpower #2: Ear to the ground
Superpower #2 is keeping your ear to the ground, which means knowing the culture inside and out. Communications always occur in a context, never in a vacuum. That means listening and understanding what’s most important to stakeholders.
We need to have deep familiarity with the organization’s visions, goals and interdependencies. To interact with other organizational leaders and to communicate successfully, we also need to know what’s happening outside the organization. This means understanding the political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal contexts the organization is operating in.
We need to know how to interact with representatives of other organizations, especially when responding to crises or working in any situation where you need to know the competitive landscape.
Superpower #3: Relationship guru
As communications professionals, we identify with employees, customers, shareholders and many others who have the potential to impact the organization’s results. The final superpower is being a relationship guru. You don’t have to be the life of the party or very best connector, but you do need to build relationships that will help you understand and engage your audiences to support the organization’s mission and goals.
The key to relationships is fostering dialogue. Today, ten years into the social media era, people — audiences — expect it. Dialogue is how we tell our organizational story and garner support.
Since most of us don’t have experience with all possible audiences, the most important thing to understand is how to create dialogue. A few good ways: questions, focus groups, feedback channels, social media interactivity and phone calls.
Putting it all together
Your combined superpowers add up to transformational magic. With the clear, consistent voice of the storyteller — with your ear to the ground for internal and external context — and the relationship guru’s gift for knowing how to engage with stakeholders.
You now have the superpowers to create amazing audience-centric communications!