Nature of the Public Relations Audience
  • PR has become more strategic in practice.
  • Audiences are targeted precisely; some messages are customized at the individual level
  • Controlled media – the use of communication channels that reach directly to the audience.

Senior and Ethnic Markets
  • Seniors:
    • Men and women 65 or older.
    • Sometimes, anyone over 50.
    • Almost 35 million Americans are age 65 or over.
    • When appealing to seniors, PR people should avoid the “old folks” stereotype.
    • PR Practitioners should remember these characteristics of seniors:
      • Seniors demand value in the things they buy; pay little attention to fads.
      • They vote in greater numbers; are more intense readers of newspapers and magazines. Retirees also watch TV heavily.
      • They are an excellent source of volunteers for social, health and cultural organizations because they have time and are looking for something to do.
      • They are extremely health-conscious, out of self-interest and want to know about medical developments.
    • Financially, the elderly are better off than stereotypes suggest,.
    • Elderly people eat out frequently and do much gift-buying.
  • Ethnic Groups:
    • Diversity is a strength of the U.S., but also a source of friction and misunderstandings.
    • Minority populations form many target audiences, not a massive monolithic group with identical interests.
    • Radio & TV have large Hispanic audiences.
    • The PR Practitioner must define the audience with particular care and sensitivity.

Audience Characteristics
-Knowing how to appeal to humans’ basic emotions and needs is essential.
-The Public is increasingly visually oriented.
-Many people obtain virtually all of their news from television, which is told primarily in pictures presented briefly at a swiftly changing pace. This can lead to a shortened attention span for current event coverage
-Fervent support is generated for single issues.
-Individuals may become so zealously involved in promoting or opposing a single favorite issue that they lose the social and political balance so needed in a country. This type of behavior can cause major public relations issues for the objects of attack.
-Heavy emphasis is placed on personality and celebrity.
-Celebrities are used as spokespersons for causes, even despite any expertise, because, often times, fans will follow them blindly.
-Strong distrust of authority and suspicion of conspiracy can arise from sensationalistic investigative reporting.
-Many people distrust what they read and hear due to exaggerated political promises, financial chicanery and misleading television ads. They suspect evil motives and tend to believe rumors. The need for public relations programs to develop an atmosphere of justifiable, rational trust is obvious.
-The international audience for public relations has expanded swiftly.
-Growth of global corporations and expanded foreign marketing by smaller firms opens new public relations situations.
Matching the Audience with the Media
-Print media are the most effective for delivering a message that requires absorption of details and contemplation by the receiver.
-Television has the strongest emotional impact of all media
-Radio’s greatest advantages are flexibility and the ability to reach specific target audiences.
-The online media are usually used as a supplement method of reaching a generally well-educated, relatively affluent audience interested in new ideas and fresh approaches.

On the Job Global- American Web Sites Overlook European Audiences
Although Europe boasts nearly 200 million online users a recent study conducted by APCO Online found that the world’s 50 largest companies in financial terms do not give Europe its due.
-Three out of every four sites do not offer a European link.
-Fewer than one in three sites included a phone number for the European corporate division of the parent company.
-Only half answered e-mail request for information about European operations of the company within one week.
-The majority failed to communicate in a language other than English.
-Of the 10 highest scoring sites, four were European companies.

Online Media
A personal computer is one of a public relations professional's significant tool.
The personal computer, along with the PR professional, can:

  • deliver information about client projects
  • establish contacts with reporters
  • exchange ideas through the commerical online services and the global Internet

The World Wide Web is especially useful to a PR professional.
The World Wide Web: PR professionals have a rare advantage when using home pages on the World Wide Web, because they can reach the audience with the exact message they created, and not have to go through a media gatekeeper first.

On the Job Ethics
The National Rifle Association Offers Its Own Online News Channel
Examples of ways the audience may receive types of controlled media include:
  1. direct mail
  2. direct e-mail
  3. Web sites
  4. brochures or information kiosks
Controlled media can be confusing to an audience because it makes it unclear as to what the interests of the sponsor of the messages are.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is an example of an association that uses controlled media to reach their audience. They use a web site,, to reach their audience. On this web site, they actually broadcast news and interviews.
In the 19th century, news sources were mainly political, but in today's world, a more diverse population of news sources are being thrown at us, whether we agree with it or not.

Media Relations

Editors and reporters and public relations people need each other. The media must have material and ideas from public relations sources, and practitioners must have the media as a place to tell their stories.

Public relations people should remember several things about editors and reporters:

  • They are busy. Make your sales pitch succinctly and objectively.
  • Editors pride themselves on making their own decisions about what stories to run and how to run them. Excessive hype of a story often turns them against it.
  • Stories submitted by non-profits are better received by editors than are corporate new releases, which are perceived as attempts to obtain free advertising.
  • Able editors and competent public relations people respect each other and work well together.

Practitioners also need to remember several things about themselves when dealing with the media:

  • Your job is important in keeping the public informed. You are performing a service, not asking a favor, when you submit a story idea or news release.
  • You should assume that your story will be judged on its merits as seen by the editor, and you should not demean yourself by begging an editor to use it.
  • Your role continues after the story or idea has been accepted. You cannot control the tone of the story that appears, but you can influence it by providing favorable story angles and additional information. A public relations person's helpful, pleasant personality does influence most writers, at least subtly.

Print Media

Printed words can be kept indefinitely and can be reread. Messages delivered in printed form through newspapers, magazines, and books are a fundamental element in public relations work.

Newspapers- Every edition of newspaper contains hundreds of news stories and pieces of information, in much greater number than the largest news staff can gather by itself. Newspapers depend upon information brought to them voluntarily.

  • The Colombia Journalism Review noted, that in one edition the Wall Street Journal had obtained 45 percent of its 188 news items from news releases. Public relations generates about 50 percent of the stories in New York City newspapers, according to Albert Scardino, press secretary for former Mayor David L. Dinkins.

  • Approximately 1,500 daily newspapers and 7,200 weekly newspapers are published in the United States.
  • Television, direct mail, and the Internet are now the main challenges to newspapers.
  • Newspapers published for distribution in the late afternoon, called evening or P.M. papers, outnumber morning papers approximately three to one. Knowledge of a newspaper's hours of publication and the deadlines it enforces for submission of a copy is essential for everyone who supplies material to the paper.
  • Approximately three-quarters of American daily newspapers are owned by newspaper groups.
A Commercial Institution.

When dealing with a newspaper, public relations people should remember that it is a commercial institution, created to earn a profit as a purveyor of news and advertising.

  • Newspapers receive nearly 80 percent of their income from advertising and about 20 percent from selling papers to readers. They cannot afford to publish press releases that are nothing more than commercial advertising; to do so would cut into their largest source of income. To be published, a release submitted to a newspaper must contain information that an editor regards as news of interest to a substantial number of readers.
  • Because newspapers are protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution, they cannot be forced to publish any material, including news releases, nor do they need to receive permission from the government or anyone else to publish whatever they desire.

Organization of a Newspaper.

Public relations professionals should know how a newspaper staff is organized so they can take story ideas or policy problems to the proper person. In most cases, the publisher is the director of all financial, mechanical, and administrative operations. Frequently the publisher also has ultimate responsibility for news and editorial matters.

  • The editor heads the news and editorial department.
  • The associate editor conducts the editorial and commentary pages and deals with the public concerning their content.
  • The managing editor is head of news operations to whom the city editor and the editor of sections, such as sports, business, entertainment, and family living, answer.
  • The City Editor directs the local news staff of reporters.
Weekly newspapers have a different focus fromt hat of daily newspapers. The much smaller staff of the weekly concentrates exclusively on its own community.
  • Weekly editors rely heavily on volunteered material.
  • Although weekly newspapers are often overlooked by public relations programs, weeklies can be effective outlets for those who study how to meet their needs.
The Spoken and Visual Media
Radio, television, motion pictures, and video have strong impact on virtually everyone.
· Speed and mobility are the special attributes that make radio unique among the major media
· Radio benefit from the ability to be heard almost anywhere.
· According to PRWeek, Radio is a pervasive medium, with 97 percent of adults listening to an AM or FM station at least once a week.
Public Relation Opportunities in Radio
Radio programs may be divided into two general categories: news-talk and entertainment.
At least eight possible target exist in radio:
1. Newscast- Many stations have frequent newscasts, of which the five-minute variety is the most common.
2. Community calendars- many stations broadcast a daily program called the “community Bulletin Board” or a similar title.
3. Actualities- Radio news directors brighten their newscasts by including actualities.
4. Talk shows- Placement of a client on a talk show provides exposure for the individual and for the cause being espoused while avoiding the filtering of information by news staff.
5. Editorials- powerful radio stations often broadcast editorial, comparable to newspaper editorial, that are usually delivered by the station manager
6. Disc jockey shows- program of music and chitchat frequently air material provide by public relations sources
7. Community events- Radio station sponsor community events such as outdoor concert or long-distance run.
8. Public service announcements- These commercial promoting public cause such as health care and civic programs
· Our lives feel the impact of television more than that of any other communication medium.
· The fundamental factor that differentiates television from the other media and gives it such pervasive impact is the visual element.
· The rise of cable news competitors that challenge the supremacy of network news, which has lead to opened enormous new programming potential and a consequent increase in public relations opportunities.