Targeting audiences

It is vital to know who your key audiences are. You should already have a clear idea of this, but it is worth taking time to ensure that you have considered all those who may have an interest in your research.

Think beyond the obvious organisations and individuals. What may seem like less significant audiences – new organisations, ambitious backbench MPs, keen freelance journalists – are worth cultivating too. You can't target everyone, but it is worth having a selective list of 'up and coming' audiences whose influence may grow and develop over the lifetime of your project.

Your target audiences will be specific to your project but many are common to all research organisations. The ESRC recently mapped some of its most significant stakeholders and came up with a list which may be useful as a starting point for drawing up your own list: ESRC list of key stakeholders (PDF, 37Kb)

Prioritising your audiences

Since time and money are limited, it is useful to rank each of your potential audiences and user groups according to their importance and influence relative to your strategy.

A good question to ask is: if you had half the money and half the time to spend on your strategy, which of your potential audiences would you focus on?

Managing your contacts

When targeting multiple audiences, it is important to keep track of who you have contacted and why. This is vital for influencing, issuing publications and press releases, and organising events. How you manage your contacts with audiences is as important as gaining them in the first place.

You may find it useful to invest in a contact management system. This is software that helps you keep track of all communication you have with your contacts, including emails, documents and telephone calls. It also enables you to share this information easily within your research team. You can buy contact management systems online, and some basic systems can be downloaded free of charge.

Choosing channels