Do you really know your audience?


When is the paper going to print something that is actually worth reading?

This is the question the man who encouraged me to read from a young age, by getting me to read the daily newspaper cartoons to him, my now 93-year-old father asked me this morning.

I am but a lowly commercial advertising copy writer and am not involved in the news gathering or story selection process at my work so I’m in no position to answer on behalf the news room but sadly, I had to agree with him.

My dad’s respect for newspaper did in some small way influence my determination to work in the industry, although it did take a while to get there. His words this morning have crashed around inside my head ever since and make me ponder if this new found direction of the media, digital, will have a reverse effect and hammer the nails into print media’s coffin all that much quicker. Regular readers like my dad don’t even know how to use a mobile phone and there aren’t any crosswords or Phantom strips on line.

Regional newspapers circulation has exhibited a decline, yes, but we are still out in front from our metro counterparts. The figures constantly quoted as reassurance of our job security confirm this so why reshape something that still fits into the community it is supposed to serve? The cross over to the new is loosing readers.

I know my opinion doesn’t count and my role is purely to make the advertisers happy so they spend more money with us which in turn means we all keep our jobs a bit longer but I’m going to say this anyway. What is wrong with you people? Wake up and meet the people in the community before you are called upon to mention them in a news brief or obituary.

Over the years I have established wonderful working relationships with a wide range of people in this region and all are wonderful sources of information if I need to call on them. They know me and I know them and they trust me. They will drop interesting story ideas, give me background if asked and even direct me to other interesting people but I’m not allowed to follow up on them. That is for the newsroom, not the advert copywriter.

I wonder if others have heard comments like my fathers, or if they would listen even if they did.

But I am just the low life commercial advertising copywriter. I just talk to the people in the community, listen to them and try to help their prosperity on a regular basis.  I have no hard feelings towards those employed to tell  local stories, you all just do what is on the news list handed to you. All I’m saying is to get to know the people who buy the paper regularly and not those who you give permission to be your friend on social media. They’re on line and more about what is happening on the weekend for them than what is happening in the community. I mean do you really know those people.

One of the first lessons my media university studies served up to me was know your audience. Connect with them and they will want to hear from you.  When stories are written for online publication it is obvious in print media.

Digital media. Phff. Do you really know your audience?

The online audience are unknown individuals and stories/clicks depend more on the first line  than ever before. It’s already been worked out that lazy people at a computer or on mobile technology are easily distracted by sensationalism but I think the trade is forgetting that real readers want to know facts and the full story.

Ill informed rant over. Thank you if you stay tuned long enough to finish reading.

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4 thoughts on “Do you really know your audience?

  1. You knew I would enjoy that read.

    Social media has changed communication beyond belief. Not for the better in my opinion, but I’m just old. Not as old as your dad mind!

    I see *some* blogs as being the equivalent of broadsheet quality newspapers. I see Twitter and Facebook as the downmarket end. More sales, but more crap.

    And yup, us journalists always thought we were a cut above ad staff. It’s inbuilt. Very elitist, totally unfair but that’s life. Especially when the ads bring in the money – not the journalism 😀

    1. I confess. I was thinking of you when I decided to write this. Do I know my limited but constant audience? Lol.
      Many marketing people I talk to can’t grasp why I’m a copywriter not a journalist. Simple really. I’m a cost savings to make maximum profit from sales. I interview people, take my own photos and write original copy as much as possible but it’s such a burden for the newsroom when I take holidays, I only get 4 weeks a year compared to journalist award 6, because my work seems to be below them. My three days off just recently caused the editor to have small melt down and wanted me to do editorial copy for advertising that hadn’t been sold before I left. This proved to me editorial have no idea about the connection between what the sales reps do and what they do. Note: I missed the bit in job qualifications were I had to have mind reading abilities to do job in advance.

      1. Gotta go out J, but I’ll reply later.

        Love, the snotty arrogant journalist 😀

        PS I have just written another post about editing etc on roughseas, it may or may not entertain you. No advertising copywriters harmed in the writing of that post.

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