August 1, 2013 Columns

Spreading the Word: Targeting Audiences Matters Most

As with most professionals who are proud of what they do, ASHA members often cite the need for greater awareness of the speech-language pathology and audiology fields. Before engaging in raising awareness, however, it is a good idea to first ask yourself who needs to know about your work and why.

Depending on your goals, some audiences are clearly more important than others, and you want to tailor your outreach accordingly. Otherwise, you'll waste a lot of energy and likely have little success. It is increasingly difficult to reach "everyone." The media landscape is increasingly fragmented, and people now access news on their smartphones, tablets and other devices; via websites, blogs, and Facebook and Twitter; and through tools such as customized feeds and news aggregators to for specific topics of personal interest.

So before you begin any publicity efforts, ask yourself a few key questions to help maximize your success:

Who are the most important stakeholders to reach? It may be parents of children with communication disorders, the local school board or PTA, state representatives, or a variety of others. Sometimes, rather than the masses, it may be just a handful of key groups or influencers who really need to hear your message.

What is the best way to reach these people? Perhaps it is through a local TV station or newspaper. Or maybe it's a media outlet with a more specific audience, such as a professional newsletter or specialty magazine. Or perhaps it's even an online discussion board, listserv, or other nontraditional forum. Determine where the audiences you are trying to reach get their information. You can do this through some basic online searching or by simply talking to others, such as your patients, colleagues and neighbors.

What do you want to say? Be relevant! It's critical that what you say reflects the audiences you are targeting. The content itself, how it is organized, and the call to action should be written in a way that resonates with the desired audience. The message may be very different depending on whether you are speaking to parents or to lawmakers, for instance. If you are trying to advocate for increased funding, for example, you may want to go to parents with a message of fighting on behalf of their children so they can live fulfilling and productive lives. When speaking with lawmakers, you may want to focus on a tangible, economic benefit, such as reduced costs to government programs in the long-term when early intervention is available in schools through adequate funding.

Once you answer these questions, you can feel confident about initiating your outreach.

Want more information? Contact

Francine Pierson, is an ASHA public relations manager.

cite as: Pierson, F. (2013, August 01). Spreading the Word: Targeting Audiences Matters Most . The ASHA Leader.


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