December 15, 2021

How to Reach Key Audiences

Three surprising ways you can connect with your key audiences


Written by: Tessa Danelesko, Account Manager @ Yulu PR

Hearing directly from your key audience is a powerful way to make sure your planning and projects are just and inclusive. Use the following three techniques to build connections and host meaningful conversations with a diversity of community members.

Ask them to attend a focus group (and pay them to be there)

The best way to understand how your key audience is thinking about your project or topic at hand is to ask them directly. Invite six to 10 members of your key audience to join you for an hour and ask questions that dig deep. The insights you’ll collect may be surprising or validating – either way, focus groups offer you a chance to tailor your approach so that it is inclusive of these reflections.

If you’re not keen on in-person events, host a virtual focus group, it’s quick and easy to organize. Invite 6-10 participants to join you on a Zoom line, and facilitate the conversation in lively and creative ways i.e. take advantage of the polling function or thumbs up / thumbs down buttons.

Wondering how to get people to attend? Pay them for their time! Offering fair compensation to all focus group attendees not only communicates that you value their presence and input, but may also ensure that those who may not otherwise be able to attend can be there. Compensation is especially important for key audience members from underrepresented communities, such as youth, BIPOC or other marginalized peoples.

Meet them where they’re at 

Knowing when and where your key audience spends time is critical. Most people are happy to chat about topics that matter to them, but many won’t go out of their way to do so. Make it easy for them to share by doing some good old fashioned boots on the ground outreach.

Want to send a survey to people who spend time on boats? Connect with a nearby marina or yacht club and ask them to distribute it to their customers or members in the next issue of their newsletter. Interested in what folx are thinking about organic produce? Engage with grocers frequented by your audience to ask if you can host a table or set up a questionnaire in their store.

Think carefully about how diverse your audience is, and make sure everyone has a chance to participate. For example, does your audience have strong representation from the Vietnamese community? Develop Vietnamese versions of your website, surveys and other communications materials.

Invite them to an open house

Open houses provide a venue to directly engage and educate key audiences on your project or topic of interest. They are an excellent way to present information, foster dialogue and share takeaways (think helpful brochures or fun stickers).

The trick to getting people to show up is ensuring that you’re organizing an event that is tailored to the folx you want to reach. Think hard about barriers to attendance and how you can use your resource to maximize accessibility. For example, if you’d like to gain insights from parents with young kids, offer childcare and be cognizant not to schedule the open house when bed time activities are occurring. It’s up to you to ensure members of your key audience feel welcome and safe at your open house.

You might be thinking – we’re in the middle of a pandemic, is it safe to host an open house? The good news is that there’s a growing movement towards virtual open houses and there are a number of platforms that you can use to hold one:

  • Use Zoom to collect insights: prevent people from speaking over one another by facilitating a roundtable discussion, or have facilitators host breakout rooms for smaller groups to dive deep on specific topics.
  • Check out Twitter Spaces: use the social media platform to invite your key audience to a live audio conversation (bonus tip #1: Twitter is highly used by journalists, invite them to join if it makes sense, especially if the discussion is relevant to their beat).
  • Try Clubhouse: this audio app allows users to communicate in chat rooms that can accommodate thousands of people (bonus tip #2: Clubhouse is also an excellent way to listen in on open conversations about topics of interest to your key audience – tune in and take notes!).

However you use these three techniques to engage your key audiences, centre equity and deep listening. This will create space for folx to share what’s most important to them, allowing you to develop communications plans that are fair and inclusive for those it matters to most.