Strategic Communication Process: Audience Analysis

Communication in the most general sense is the process of transferring information. Creating a shared meaning by exchanging symbols and nonverbal messages contributes to how people make sense of information. Business communication is a combination of interpersonal, intercultural, and institutional communication. Understanding the components within business communication is necessary for transferring information to the appropriate audience. By analyzing the components that comprise an audience, a business can tailor messages to address the specific business needs while transferring information appropriate to the audience.

Importance of Audience Analysis

Cardon (2016) defines business ethics as, “the common accepted beliefs and principles in the business community for acceptable behavior” (p. 9). Business ethics are a combination of transparency, corporate values, and code of conduct that establish credibility of a business. An effective way of establishing credibility is to demonstrate accountability. By creating a sense of accountability, a business is positioned to communicate important messages about products and services to a target audience. To transfer information to an audience, the dialogic model of communication is a method that incorporates attributes of “trust, lack of pretense, sincerity, humility, respect, directness, open-mindedness, honesty, concern for others, empathy, nonmanipulative intent, equality, and acceptance of others as individuals with intrinsic worth, regardless of differences of opinions or beliefs” (Walker, 2015, p. 30).

Identifying Differences for Targeted Messages

When constructing business messages, an aspect to consider is the differences in the target audience. A message that is meant for one socioeconomic background might not be applicable to another demographic. Generational differences will contribute to the success of information transfer. An illustration of this type of transaction is how politicians are addressing different voting demographics. Millennials are the young American voting population and are less interested in socialist ideology and more interested in closing the income gap (Chang, 2016). Millennials have grown up in a time where they witnessed the banking crisis and Wall Street run amok. Conversely, Baby Boomers who are the largest voting population in the United States associate socialism with the Cold War, which is an inherent threat to their freedom (Chang, 2016). Even though both voting populations are concerned about fiscal responsibility, drafting a political message meant for Millennials will have a different tone from a political message destined for Baby Boomers.

Understanding Differences in Communications

Cultural intelligence contains three key components, cognitive knowledge, motivation, and behavioral adaptability (Walker, 2015). Developing cultural intelligence is a necessary skill for communicators because every person is a member of the global village. Developing strategies to overcome cultural difference is a critical factor in successful business interactions, even if the interactions are uncomfortable. According to Martin and Nakayama (2010), indicate that intercultural encounters make people aware of their own ethnocentrism, which is “a tendency to think that our own culture is superior to other cultures” (p. 5). One method for recognizing personal bias is to understand that bias is relative to the person. The relativist position is the idea that a person is shaped by language, cultural behaviors, and field of experience, which also indicates that no universal truth exists (Martin and Nakayama, 2010). Maintaining a relativist position is employing the big picture strategy to create the social constructionist perspective.

Creating Message Content for the Appropriate Audience

Walker (2015) indicates that a social constructionist perspective is the process of creating and reinforcing a shared meaning through communicative practices including the use of symbols, cultural practices, and realities. By incorporating the knowledge, interests, attitudes, and concerns of an audience, a message can be refined so that the crucial information is portrayed. Conciseness is presenting information in messages in a way to prevent information overload, which inhibits understanding. According to Walker (2015), information overload affects a person’s ability to “gather, analyze, and identify information on which to base sound decisions and communication strategies” (p. 40). In addition to creating concise messages, democratizing messages is a way communicators can draft messages for a multicultural audience. Developing an understanding of an audiences’ demographic feature allows communicators to cultivate a clear message while aiming the message at the most important group allows for a democratic strategy.

Creating Audience-Centered Messages

Although self-centered communication is important type of communication because intrapersonal communication can offer insight into self- reflexivity, audience-centered communication is recognizing the needs, concerns, and expectations of the audience members (Walker, 2015). Ensuring communication is an audience-centered method of communication is a multipoint process. Analysis of topic location, eliminating superfluous information, logical organization, elaboration, and proofreading are the five points of constructing audience-centered messages. Analysis of topic location is confirming that the topic is presented first while eliminating superfluous information is removing information that is irrelevant to the topic. Logical organization of information is placing information in a clear and relatable order while elaboration is expanding on any information that needs additional clarification. Although necessary, drafting a message is not as important as planning. Cardon (2016) indicates that excellent writers spend most of the time planning a message as well as dedicating more time to reviewing. The fifth point of proofreading is a culmination of the planning, drafting, and reviewing process of message creation.

Predictions for Best Practices

Communication and the supporting tenets provide businesses and people with a foundation for delivering well-tailored messages. Analyzing the different audiences, identifying the most appropriate method for message delivery, and employing strategies for overcoming cultural differences are approaches for designing messages for a targeted audience. Strategies such as employing the five-points of audience-centered messages, recognizing how information overload can deter conciseness, and analyzing social constructionist perspective to determine the most effective procedures will help communicators develop accountability and establish credibility. By applying these components of communication, a business can present the clearest message for audience.

References

Cardon, P. (2016).  Business Communication: Developing leaders for a networked world (2nd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

Chang, J. (2016, February 9). Juju Chang: The Power of Your Story. [Video File] The National Society for Leadership and Success. Retrieved from https://www.societyleadership.org/members/content/broadcast

Martin, J. N., & Nakayama, T. K. (2010). Intercultural communication in contexts (5th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.

Walker, R. (2015). Strategic Management Communication for Leaders (3rd ed.). Stamford, Connecticut: Cengage Learning.

 

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