For my entire career I’ve been using words including messages and audience. They are universal words. When you mention these words people immediately know what you are talking about. But, now, in PR 2.0 and with the use of social media, we have to rethink how we use these two words.
Let’s start with messages. Messages are generally intended to tell someone what you think is important, or what your company thinks will benefit its customers. Brands always have certain commonly agreed upon phrases or accepted wording that they push out to their customers and other stakeholders. But, guess what? In PR 2.0, you’re no longer “talking to” and telling customers what you want them to understand about your products or services. Rather, you should always be providing the communication and materials that they want, or request so they can gather, organize and share the communication.
It’s your job to help people make smart decisions. This is the difference between the customer who just hears what a company says and takes no action, and the person who asks and engages in dialogue with a brand, which leads to the purchase of a product or service. I don’t know if we can all stop using the word “messages;” it’s embedded in our brains and frame of references. But, if we could just think about messages as information that people want rather than what a brand wants to tell them, well then we’re making progress.
Next is the word audience. It’s an overused word in marketing and it’s meant to sound targeted when we say things like, “target audience and audience demographics.” Although people in web communities are like minded and conversing about information that is meaningful to them, they are all individuals with different wants, needs and behaviors. Well, you’re probably wondering, then how did the word “audiences” last so long in the traditional realm. Most likely, the reason is in earlier years of communication the communication was broadcast, so it was never one-to-one but always one-to-many. Social media allows us to go one-to-one easily to provide someone with valuable information. Then, that person can virally pass the information to people who he or she knows will feel the same way or who would benefit from the communication. I think that we’ll still see the word audience scattered about in the marketing world, but you should keep in mind that no customer wants to be lumped in a group of people, that has no relevance or relation to them. Your brand will obtain loyal customers if you treat each person independently.
What do you think of the words audiences and messages now?