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Chapter 2
Adapting Your Message
to Your Audience
Audience Identification Channels
Audience Analysis Audience Benefits
Organizational Culture Multiple Audiences
Discourse Communities
Identify Your Audiences
 Gatekeeper – may stop message or
send it on
 Primary - decides or acts on basis of
 Secondary –comments on message
or implements ideas

Identify Your Audiences,
 Auxiliary – encounters message but
does not interact with it (read-only)
 Watchdog – may exert economic,
legal, political, or social power later

Analyze Your Audiences
 Use common sense
 Use empathy—ability to put yourself in
someone else’s shoes, to feel with
that person

Analyze Your Audiences As…
 Individuals
 Group members
 Demographics
 Psychographics
 Organizations
 Organizational culture
 Discourse community

Analyze Group Members
 Focus on common features
 Map profile of group features
 Demographic (quantity) features
 Age – Sex – Education – Income – Race
 Psychographic (quality) features
 Values – Beliefs – Goals – Lifestyles
 Use VALS (Values & Lifestyle) profile

Analyze Organizations
 Organizational culture – set of values,
attitudes, and philosophies
 Shows in myths, stories, heroes, and
 Shows in use of space, money, and power

To Analyze Organizational
Culture, Ask…
 Is organization tall or flat?
 How do people get ahead?
 Is diversity or homogeneity valued?
 Is friendship and sociability important?
 How formal are behavior, language,
and dress?
 What does the work space look like?
 What are the organization’s goals?
Analyze Organizations,
 Discourse community – people who
share assumptions about:
 What media, formats, and styles to use
 What topics to discuss and how
 What constitutes convincing evidence

To Analyze Discourse Community,
 What media, formats, and styles are
preferred for communication?
 What do people talk about?
 What topics are not discussed?
 What kind of evidence and how much
is needed to be convincing?

 Communication channels – means by
which you convey your message
 Channels vary by
 Speed, accuracy, and cost
 Number of messages carried
 Number of people reached
 Efficiency and goodwill
 Choose channels based on the
audience, purpose, and situation
Pick the best channel for each situation:
 Instructor who wants to cancel class
 Small non-profit organization who needs to
reach contributors
 Product recall notifications
 Notice to all employees about new smoking
policy outside corporate offices

Six Questions to Analyze
1. How will audience initially react?
 Will they see message as important?
 What is their experience with you?
2. How much information do they need?
 What do they already know?
 Does their knowledge need to be
 What do they need to know to appreciate
your points?
Six Questions to Analyze
Audiences, continued…
3. What obstacles must you overcome?
 Is audience opposed to your message?
 Will it be easy to do as you ask?
4. What positives can you emphasize?
 What are benefits for audience?
 What do you have in common with them?
 Experiences – Interests – Goals – Values

Six Questions to Analyze
Audiences, continued…
5. What does audience expect?
 What writing style do they prefer?
 Are there red flag words?
 How much detail does audience want?
 Do they want direct or indirect structure?

Six Questions to Analyze
Audiences, continued…
6. How will audience use the document?
 Under what physical conditions?
 What purpose will document serve?
 Reference
 Guide
 Basis of lawsuit

Audience Benefits
 Advantages audience gets from
 Using your services
 Buying your products
 Following your policies
 Adopting your ideas

Audience Benefits, continued…
 In informative messages
 Benefits = reasons to comply with
announced policies
 In persuasive messages
 Benefits = reasons to act
 In negative messages
 Benefits not used

Four Criteria for Audience Benefits
1. Adapt benefits to audience
2. Stress intrinsic and extrinsic ones
 Intrinsic– built in
 Extrinsic – added on
3. Prove with clear logic and use vivid
detail to explain
4. Phrase benefits in you-attitude

Three Ways to Identify and
Develop Audience Benefits
1. Identify feelings, fears, and needs of
2. Identify objective features of your
product or policy that could meet
3. Show how audience’s needs can be
met with those features

Writing to Multiple Audiences
 When not possible to meet everyone’s
needs, analyze gatekeeper and
primary audience to determine
 Content and choice of details
 Organization
 Level of formality
 Technical level