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Media Training: Know Your Audience

  October 19, 2023

If you are looking to promote your business through media interviews it is important to know just who your target audience is.  It may be that mainstream English-language media is not the best fit. The audience size will be larger but if your client/customer base doesn't match the demographics of the media outlet, are you really gaining any ground?

Perhaps your focus should be on social media, trade journals, Black-owned media outlets, Spanish-language media or media that serve Asian communities.  One size does not fit all needs.  It could be you still go for mainstream English language interviews, but also reach out to other media that can expand your reach.

There are several things to consider when determining your audience much like when you figure out who your target customer/client is.  

  • Socio-economic factors such as education, employment and income to name a few
  • Age
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Language
  • Political leanings

Some choices are easy.  If your target is young adults, a Tik-Tok video likely will have more impact than a hit on CNN, which skews older.  

If you wish to connect with a large Hispanic community, what better way than having bilingual executives or spokespeople  who can communicate in English and Spanish.   A multi-generational family likely will have mixed language preferences.  Some may be monolingual while others are bilingual.   If you want to reach them all, you must have messaging in both languages.

Cultural differences matter as much as language.  So do your homework and get input from thought-leaders inside or outside your organization.  Whether you are sitting for an interview with NBC BLK or Telemundo become familiar with their formats and the types of stories they may be looking for.  

Language should always be considered when you plan to stage a news conference.  If Hispanics make up a large percentage of your target audience, you could risk alienating them if you don't provide messaging in Spanish as well as English.

  • Do you make a statement in English and immediately repeat it in Spanish? Or do you let the journalists know you will hold a separate newser in Spanish immediately following this news conference?
  •  If this is breaking news and  English-language stations are taking your news conference live, there's a chance they will drop out when you speak in Spanish.  They could dip in and out. 
  • If you promise that Spanish speakers will be available, make sure you honor that promise.  It could be with a separate news conference or with one-on-one interviews in Spanish.
  • If no one on your executive team speaks Spanish, you could have a staff member simply translate the senior executives' comments.  

In our bilingual media training classes, executives have the opportunity to field questions in both English and Spanish.  It's harder than it looks to seamlessly go back and forth and stay true to their company's messaging.  Like most things, it takes practice.  

Another language issue to consider is how to reach the hearing impaired.  When a crisis occurs that impacts the community, government officials and first responders often include an ASL interpreter.  If you think you may need an ASL interpreter at some point, it's a good idea to vet candidates before you need one.  The last thing you need is for a non-qualified signer to be part of your news conference.  Back in 2017, a phony interpreter appeared alongside Tampa law enforcement during a news conference regarding a homicide arrest.  This con artist did a real disservice to the deaf community and left the PD embarrassed.


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