Understanding target groups and individuals

Understanding target groups and individuals

This step is often forgotten! To implement an effective K&A plan, it is important to have a good understanding of the perceptions, needs and concerns of your stakeholders.

Key questions to ask yourself

To better understand priority groups and individuals, make sure you can answer the following questions about each target group/individual:

  • Perceptions
    • What do they already know and understand about the project?
    • Do they have any misconceptions?
  • Concerns
    • What are their concerns about the project?
  • Communication needs
    • What do they want to know?
    • How do they want to be communicated with, consulted, engaged?
    • How do they want to interact with the project team?
    • What help do they need to be informed and involved?

Identifying perceptions, concerns and communication needs

Listed below are tactics for identifying what is already known about people’s perceptions, concerns and communication needs. Results from surveys and questionnaires are useful for finding out about perceptions while the results of qualitative methods of research are useful for finding out about concerns and communication needs. Surveys are the only approach that yields statistically significant data. Other approaches, including those listed below, do provide a ‘snapshot’ of each target group/individual, but, because they may not give the full picture, they should be seen as preliminary assessments rather than final analyses. If you use 2 or more of these approaches and the information seems consistent, your ‘snapshot’ is more likely to be an accurate reflection of the full picture.

  • Review newspaper clippings featuring a relevant issue and/or target groups/individuals - This is a good way to get a quick overview.
  • Discuss target groups and individuals with colleagues - who have dealt with similar target groups/individuals and their issues. Consider including those in other states. This can give you a sense of the concerns that have arisen in similar situations.
  • Meet informally with target groups/individuals - Informal meetings or telephone contacts can give you a first-hand idea of both substantive concerns and the feelings about those concerns.
  • Send a personal letter/email to individuals asking them to send you a list of their questions and concerns about the project - This can be a useful way to start a dialogue with a greater number of people.
  • Review relevant survey results - Ask people who often run surveys, such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resource Economics.
  • Review any other relevant research - into the natural resource issues or target groups/individuals. For example results of focus groups.
  • Brainstorm questions and concerns - at the beginning or end of a scheduled meeting with groups/individuals. Ask people to write their questions on index cards that you distribute and collect. Often you will want to know their concerns in advance of a meeting, but this approach can be very useful for making sure that you meet their concerns and for showing them that you are doing so.
  • Consult pre-existing or specially formed advisory committees - To be useful, advisory committees must be representative of the target groups and individuals you will be communicating with.
  • Search the internet for relevant names/organisations.
  • Get target groups and individuals involved in the K&A planning process - Ask them how they want to be involved.