Organising messaging for diverse audiences


Hi there, thanks for joining me for this episode of Lab Notes. If we don't know each other my name's Felicity Wild, I run the Brand Language Lab and today I want to talk about dealing with diverse audiences in the context of messaging projects.


You might think this is a weird thing for me to talk about, because aren't we always told your target audience can't be everyone? That is true and particularly relevant for commercial businesses. If you're a B2B or a B2C business, you can't appeal to everyone. Or you can try, but it's impossible, it's not a wise move. It's much better to keep a tight focus on your messaging and target really specific audiences.

But that advice is not particularly helpful for organisations that by their nature have to communicate with a large number of different audiences. And I'm thinking about charities, NGOs, public bodies, research institutes, universities. These organisations quite often have a huge range of different audiences that they are communicating with. Audiences with different interests, different levels of technical knowledge and who all want to know different things. 

Obviously, this can pose a pretty significant challenge if we're thinking about organising messaging into some sort of framework. To show you how I tackle big monster projects like this, I'm going to use an example from a children's charity I worked with a few years ago. 

This charity had a huge range of important stakeholders that they needed to speak to, including national government, all levels within local authority, service provider partners, funding bodies, fundraisers, and potential service users. 

You can see how this would be particularly challenging. And prior to working with me, they had a haphazard, scattergun approach. They didn't have any formal messaging. It was done on a case-by-case basis. So if they had something they needed to communicate to the national government, they would work out how to do that. And then move on to promoting a new service to service users. And they'd work out what they were going to say then. 

Each time they were starting from scratch, having to reinvent the wheel. You can see how that would be a really stressful, overwhelming task and also unnecessarily hard. 

So, I worked with them to streamline their communication and simplify their messaging. And I did this by categorising their audiences into three broad areas of interest that I identified. You can see how I did this in the table below. 

There were audiences that were interested in policy and participation information: national government, local authority and funding bodies. Audiences interested in service impact and value: national government. Then audiences interested in how this specific charity could help them: potential service users. 

I then went on to develop key messaging for each of these broad interest areas. Rather than trying to deal with each audience specifically and breaking it down at such a granular level, because there were similarities across some of the audiences and what they wanted to know.

So if you are facing an absolute monster of a messaging project like this with a huge number of different stakeholders and audiences, this is how I’d recommend tackling it.

Thank you so much for listening. If you have any feedback, any suggestions for things that you'd like me to cover, if you just want to say hi, please do email me and I will see you again next time.