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Your Audience: What Are Their Needs?

September 24, 2015  |  Jason Wright
Welcome back to the Information that is Public. This month, I want to continue our exploration of customer-focused communications by asking a powerful question: What are my customers’ needs?

Remember that last month I honed in on exactly who my customer was in relation to telling residents about a recently passed IGA.

I identified as my customers commuters, local businesses that depend on good roads and residents concerned with smart government spending. Then I crafted a headline, subhead, lede and nutgraph of a release to address those segments.

You’ll notice, though, that implicit in my first question was the concept of needs. Above all, needs led to my ability to segment those different customers. For instance, parks and recreation families, probably a big stakeholder group for the city as a whole, don’t really factor in here because their needs don’t align with the solution being presented.

Instead, commuters need well-maintained roads more than others. So do local businesses to ensure they can continue to bring in crowds. And because we pursued a novel service strategy, the needs of those customers looking for stories of well-run, finance conscious governments also align.

So let’s look at that headline, subhead, lede and nutgraph again.

Head: Officials pledge $2M-plus yearly for quality roads (to meet the infrastructure needs of commuters and the business community)

Subhead: Innovative agreement combines cities’ resources for best value (to meet the needs of budget-watchers)

Lede: In their continuing effort to provide Metropolis with the best-kept roads in the state (remember, always keep your electeds looking good), elected officials on Monday night pledged more than $2 million a year to keep blacktop pristine (to meet the infrastructure needs of commuters and the business community).

Nutgraph: (to meet the needs of budget-watchers) Metropolis City Council established a cost-saving agreement with neighboring Gotham City to keep the “score” of local roads high – meaning minimal potholes, smooth asphalt and bright, reflective striping (to meet the infrastructure needs of commuters and the business community).

See how everything lines up? This should always be your intent. Remember – there should be no wasted space, no extraneous information (for a great explanation, check out “Chekov’s Gun”). Know who you’re writing for and what they need, and you’re half-way there.

Speaking of half-way there, that’s it for this month and the half-way point of this series on customers. Next month we’ll ask, “How can I satisfy the customers’ needs?”
Jason Wright is Communications Manager for the Georgia Tech Research Library. Up until November 2015, he was the Director of Innovation and Engagement for the City of Milton where he oversaw all aspects of the city's branding and communications efforts, including transparency, automation, design, photography, printing, web services and social media and public outreach.

Prior to Milton, Wright spent seven years working in the magazine and newspaper business. Most recently he was editor of both the Milton Herald and Alpharetta–Roswell Revue and News, where he wrote, edited, photographed for and oversaw design of the weekly papers. Prior to that, he worked as a writer, editor, designer and photographer for local, regional and national publication.