In advocacy, it is always important to understand your audience and to know which angle they are coming from. There are a number of ways that identification of the target audience can help with meeting the advocacy objective. Firstly, getting to know the target audience means that you can learn how they speak and think, and this can be used to put together speeches and other forms of communication that directly appeal to them (Given, 2008). By knowing their objectives, advocacy plans can be made to seem more appealing to help get other people on board. It is also important to know the audience to ensure that the advocacy plan is tailored to their needs, rather than simply being a goal without purpose (Weinreich, 2006). There is no point creating a plan for better schooling if that schooling does not appeal to parents, teachers, and other stakeholders (Miller & Sinclair, 2009). Finally, it is important to understand the target audience because it can be useful in fine-tuning the advocacy project. Knowing financial restrictions, for example, means that the advocacy project can reflect both the needs and the means of the community it is trying to advocate for (Wright & Jaffe, 2013).
Getting to know primary and secondary audiences can be challenging, particularly if they reflect a variety of different viewpoints and rhetoric styles (Wright & Jaffe, 2013). There are a number of resources that can be used to help understand these audiences better. In this case, focus groups are likely to be the best source of information because they allow individuals to speak freely about a topic and will highlight the viewpoints and beliefs of the group (Wright & Jaffe, 2013). Additionally, observation of parent-teacher meetings will also highlight the goals of this group. In terms of governmental bodies, websites and speeches are a useful source of information as they give insight into the current goals of the Minister for Education and their approaches, and do not necessarily require meetings with people that can be difficult to obtain (Andreasen & Kotler, 2008).
There are a number of challenges in terms of conducting research on these key audiences, too. Creating a focus group takes time and commitment, and requires that those involved are fully committed to contributing to the group (Yasuda, 2015). It also requires that the focus group already has some level of interest in the advocacy plan – they are unlikely to attend if they feel it is not relevant to their needs (Yasuda, 2015). Getting meetings with those in government can also be extremely challenging, and again might be difficult if the advocacy plan does not fit in with the current means and needs of their approach (Wright & Jaffe, 2013). Governmental agency websites can provide a framework for knowledge, but do not necessarily reflect the rhetoric style of the individuals in question and may not paint a full picture on how best to approach them.
- Andreasen, A.R., Kotler, P., 2008. Strategic marketing for nonprofit organizations. Pearson/Prentice Hall Upper Saddle River, NJ.
- Given, L.M., 2008. The Sage encyclopedia of qualitative research methods. Sage Publications.
- Miller, B., Sinclair, J., 2009. Community stakeholder responses to advocacy advertising. Journal of Advertising 38, 37–52.
- Weinreich, N.K., 2006. What is social marketing. Weinreich Communications 10.
- Wright, A.C., Jaffe, K.J., 2013. Six Steps to Successful Child Advocacy: Changing the World for Children. SAGE Publications.
- Yasuda, Y., 2015. Rules, Norms and NGO Advocacy Strategies: Hydropower Development on the Mekong River. Routledge.