literature review








team members


Reaching Your Audience:
Matching Media Channels to Target Audience


Phase one.
       The purpose of phase one was to develop materials for public affairs practitioners to use in effectively defining audiences and selecting appropriate media channels to reach those audience segments. To address RQ1 a matrix was developed utilizing the typology of Morton (1998a, 1998b).
       During this phase researchers developed an audience segment typology utilizing Morton’s (1998a, 1998b) market segmentation research (see Appendix B, Figures 1 and 2). A column was added to reflect the media consumption habits of those various audience segments.  The acceptance of market segmentation among marketing and advertising professionals is well documented and its utility is well supported by research; thus there was no need to develop a unique typology for the public affairs practitioners’ tools (Boote, 1981). Several existing resources offer statistical snapshots of who reads, listens to, or views what media. Constantly evolving media markets require use of the latest available data to develop audience profiles.
       Though many sources of demographic information are readily available, generalizations about market segments based upon national survey data may not reflect anomalous characteristics of local populations. Thus, additional matrices were developed to aid public affairs practitioners in obtaining information about local publics (Appendix B, Figure 3). Local law enforcement agencies, emergency preparedness organizations, and government agencies may have very precise demographic information for their areas of responsibility.
       While psychographic information requires more research than demographic information, there are several resources that may give public affairs practitioners an idea of the mindset of their prospective audience members. A matrix was developed for this purpose (Appendix B, Figure 4). Research in the field of persuasion demonstrates that audience emotion can also be very important. Information from various sources is compiled for the public affairs practitioner in tabular form to aid in identifying some of the emotions Scott and O’Hair (1989) have identified as affecting audiences (Appendix B, Figure 5).
Phase two.
       The purpose of phase two was to address RQ2 by developing an evaluation of the effectiveness of the matrices developed during phase one. The researchers propose use of a pretest-post-test design to assess the usefulness of the segmentation typology proposed in phase one. Voluntary participation will be sought from the entire field of Department of Defense public affairs directors, deputies and chiefs from all services through an electronic survey posted to Department of Defense and service public affairs community websites. Most military public affairs officers have regular access to the internet and the convenience of electronic administration increases the probability of participation. Assistance from the directors of public affairs for the services will be sought to encourage participation among their respective services.
       The independent variable in this effort is the use or degree of use of the matrices by public affairs practitioners in targeting specific audiences. The dependent variable is the degree to which participating public affairs practitioners believe that the typology assisted them in communicating with their publics. Self-reported levels of satisfaction are operationalized using Likert scales and variate analysis to ascertain if there was any increased satisfaction, and if so to what extent.
       An instrument will assess respondents’ use of market segmentation and media selection techniques prior to use of the tools developed during phase one. As respondents return this instrument to the research team via electronic mail, the research team will forward the matrices developed during phase one for their use and evaluation. Respondents’ e-mail addresses will be noted in order to send them a follow-up survey 90 days after receiving the market segmentation information. Instruments to conduct the pretest and post-test are at Appendix C.
Limitations and recommendations.
       A response from the entire universe of Department of Defense public affairs practitioners is unlikely. In the interest of parsimonious design and limitations of time and resources, the research team does not include a control group in this study. If the survey generates a high enough number of returns, the researchers can randomly reduce the number of surveys to be analyzed and make the returns proportionate to the number of public affairs professionals in each of the services. For example, the Army has more public affairs personnel than the Marine Corps. If the number of Marine Corps respondents is disproportionately high, the number can be randomly reduced to reflect actual proportions of practicing Corps public affairs officers as compared to the Army.
       Variate analysis of the data will indicate any change from the mean that results from the use of the proposed typology. The research team will conduct statistical analyses including a t test comparing data from administration of pretest and post-test instruments. In addition to being analyzed in its totality, data can be broken down by services. An inter-service disparity might indicate a difference in public affairs methodology between the various branches. If samples are numerically sufficient, they may be divided in other ways, such as by geographic region or urban and rural locations.