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Many company spokespeople make a simple mistake when talking to a reporter. They forget who their target audience is and miss the opportunity to truly connect with them!
Before any interview, it’s important to know your target audience. Ultimately, this target audience is who you want to hear, understand, and accept what you’re saying. The reporter isn’t your audience; the reporter is the messenger who will communicate to your target audience on your behalf.
The trick to overcoming this error is “seeing” your target audience when talking to the reporter.
Confused? Let’s say a 25-year-old reporter asks you about health tips for older adults. When answering the question, “see” your grandma, not the 25-year-old reporter in front of you. Picture your grandma as the one asking the question about older adults. The answer you give to a grandparent will be delivered very differently than it would be to a young person right out of college. Without even realizing it, you’ll explain your answer and share it in a much more caring, respectful and appropriate way.
Here’s why this approach matters: You don’t want to insult your grandma. If you’re trying to make sure a young reporter understands an issue faced by an older adult, it’s natural to alter your wording or explain it in a way that translates to a younger person. The risk is that if the reporter quotes you or shares your example, there’s a chance you’ll come across as condescending or unqualified to the more mature audience.
Related: 5 Secrets to Talking to the Media (And Not Sounding Like a Fool)
This example goes beyond grandma. It works for any target audience or customer you may have. But there’s a catch. It doesn’t work if you’re attempting to talk to a generic collective group—like all parents of school-age kids. It only works if you’re mentally, truly talking to parents you know where you can visualize their faces and their facial responses as you talk to them.
Also, keep in mind that your target audience may encompass more than one singular demographic. Make sure your answers and examples are appropriate for any of your intended target audiences. It won’t help your cause to appeal to one target audience while insulting the other.
Let me share some more specific examples.
Speaking to the devoted traveler
A company out of Spain called Cornet Barcelona sells beautiful, mouth-blown and hand-painted glassware inspired by the stained-glass windows at the popular Barcelona tourist attraction, the Sagrada Familia. Anyone who looks at their wineglasses would agree they’re beautiful, but they’re even more so to someone who has stood in the church to view the windows with their own eyes.
As a result, whenever the Cornet Barcelona talks about the glassware, they envision they are talking with someone who personally has stood in the Sagrada Familia or wants to make a trip to Barcelona to see it for themselves. Thus, in everything that they say, Cornet Barcelona evokes positive memories (or premonitions) to make their products more than a pretty wine glass, but also a travel story. The goal here is to truly connect with their target audience, the devoted traveler so that they are more incentivized to purchase their one-of-a-kind products.
Related: 3 Ways To Handle That Media Interview Like a Pro
Speaking to a Specific Industry
Another example is SEN Design Group, a kitchen and bath industry buying group and business education resource with more than 200 independent kitchen and bath business owners as members.
SEN Design Group understands that many kitchen and bath business owners share a similar pain point as an industry. When they visit a potential client’s home and do measurements, they often need to return to the office and spend hours putting together a design and pricing estimates, forcing them to come back to the prospect days later with a plan. In that time, sometimes the homeowner changes their mind or solicits bids from competitors. All this ends up wasting a lot of time when everyone wishes that a proposal can be whipped up quickly during the initial visit.
This led SEN Design Group to introduce the DesignAlign unique selling system for free to its members, which capitalizes on the exclusive Good-Better-Best sales process. SEN Design Group’s members can now create plans and show estimates in real time with the client during the first visit.
While DesignAlign would be of interest to individual consumers, SEN Design Group understands its target audience is the independent kitchen and bath business owners, a very different audience from consumers. A second target audience would be the vendors and manufacturers who want their cabinetry and faucets included on the platform. Every time SEN representatives talk to a reporter, they’re envisioning a different business or vendor and talking directly to them when answering the question to make sure the target audience hears their answer. This way, other kitchen and bath businesses are more likely to see the benefits of joining a group like SEN Design Group.
Related: Learn to Stop Saying ‘Um’ and ‘Ah’ Before the Media Comes Calling
Talking to grandma
Yes, a reporter might be surprised when you’re looking or talking to them in an unexpected way, but they can only quote you on what you actually say. By talking to your grandma, or the face of whomever your target audience is, the story is more likely to be received the way you intended.