Missing mark with “Target audience” for CommunicateHealth | health literacy

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High: One doodle points a paper plane at another doodle and shouts, “It’s quiet! I’m trying to point you with information!”

Here a We ❤ Health Literacy Headquarters, we are no strangers to the terms “target audience” and “target population”: they are bread and butter for health! But when you think about it, they’re not a good way to refer to … well, anyone.

“Target” sounds a bit aggressive, like militaristic terms that we try to avoid. And it can make people feel like they’re, uh, goal – instead of prioritized, which is what we really mean! This connotation can be especially complicated when writing about marginalized communities.

Of course, your end user may never look at the document where you call them your “target audience” or anything else. But stranger things have happened! And as our elementary teachers liked to say, if you don’t use a word when you speak a someone, it’s best not to use it when talking About they.

So how do we talk about the people we are trying to reach out to in our internal communications, conference poster presentations, and the like? We have some ideas, and they are very simple exchanges!

Try this:

  • Our main target audience for the campaign is black Americans between the ages of 25 and 44.
  • We are prioritizing people with disabilities in our outreach efforts.
  • The content of social media was very effective in reaching the intended audience.

Not this:

  • Our target audience for the campaign is black Americans between the ages of 25 and 44.
  • We target people with disabilities in our outreach efforts.
  • Social media content was very effective in reaching the target audience.

Conclusion: let the audience “target” you; try “scheduled”, “priority” or “main”.

Tweet about it: We hear a lot about the term “target audience” on #HealthComm. @CommunicateHlth says it’s worth checking: https://bit.ly/3sb6IVx #HealthLit





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