Ready, aim, target your audience

In an editing class in college, my professor instructed us to always define the “reader, purpose and publication,” before breaking out our red pens and marking up our assignments.

By this, he meant that before editing any news or feature story, we should know who is the intended audience or readers of the piece, what is the goal or purpose of the article and where will it be published. His point was that the way the story or message should be conveyed varies depending on these three factors.

Although technology has changed over the years and many of the stories I write and edit now are not necessarily printed in a hard-copy publication, the lesson still rings true.

Before crafting messages to promote UW Oshkosh’s top-notch academic programs; community outreach; and athletic, cultural and educational events, it’s best to take a moment to think about:  Who is the intended audience? What’s the best way (or medium) to reach that audience?

If your message is on target for your audience, you’re more likely to have success reaching your goal (or purpose)—whether it is increasing enrollment for a new class or academic program, making the community aware of the University’s success as a green campus or motivating people to attend a cultural event.

A good example of how this works is to think about how Integrated Marketing, Reeve Memorial Union and Alumni Office staff members work to promote Homecoming to our diverse audiences. We all start with the same basic facts … a week full of Titan events culminating in a football game and an annual theme picked by the students. But from there, our tactics diverge.

To reach the Oshkosh community, we may promote the event on local radio stations, submit a story to the local newspaper and put up posters and yard signs around town that focus on the family-friendly events that citizens are invited to enjoy on campus. To reach students, we may send email announcements and post messages on our University’s social media outlets, encouraging them to come for the free food and to show their school spirit at the game.

Meanwhile, to reach alumni, the message may be delivered both via printed postcards and email invitations and is likely to focus on the nostalgia of meeting up with old classmates to share pride in their alma mater and to check out the changes happening on campus.  All three strategies are employed following the University’s brand guidelines.

So, the next time you get ready to promote a new program, offering or event on campus, think about your reader, your purpose and your mode of publication before even writing down the first word of your message.

And remember, we are here to help you stay on target.

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