Publics, Markets, Audiences, oh my!

This week, IMC students are assessing the publics they will need to address as part of their IMC plans and they are learning it involves more than the target market often referred to in marketing circles.

Whereas a target market is selected by a business or organization as the people who will buy or use their products or services, a public goes beyond that. A public might be a trade association that should know about what the organization is doing. It might be a group of people who are opposed to the business for some reason. It might be the employees who work inside the organization – a public, by the way,  that is all too often neglected.

All have the potential to impact the business in some way, and the business or organization impacts this public is some way. They have a relationship. Publics are not so much chosen as they already exist and ignoring them in an IMC plan could be detrimental to the objectives of the plan. Knowing who they are means their objections can be addressed, or it might be that their support for the plan’s objectives can be tapped.

We often use the terms markets, publics and audiences interchangeably but making a distinction clarifies their importance and place within a plan.  An audience is a term used to describe the people who listen to, or watch a particular medium, as in a radio station’s listeners, or a magazine’s readers.

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