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Audience-Centered Messages and Internal and External Publics

Updated on January 29, 2017

Preparing audience-centered messages requires that the writer know and understand the audience members he or she is trying to reach. How might writers gain information about the intended audience?

In order for a public relations writer to create an audience-centered message the writer must first be prepared from the very start. This means that the writer needs to know and understand their message, medium, and public (Newsom & Haynes, 2013). The writer needs to understand what they are going to be writing and where the message will be going; writing a message for social media is vastly different from writing for a magazine. In order to create a well written message that is audience-centered the writer needs to know about the public or audience that they are targeting the message towards.

In order to know about the audience the writer must first gain information about the intended audience of their message. The writer needs to learn about the characteristics, beliefs, and values of their intended audience (Newsom & Haynes, 2013). There are many different ways for a writer to gain information about their intended audience, but some of the methods are only useable for certain audiences. A writer could learn about their audience through: surveys, websites, social media, communication, personal impressions, interviews, and statistics. A writer needs to decide which method is best for learning about their audience based on who their audience is. For instance, if the audience is the students of a particular high school then the writer could use the school’s website, surveys distributed to the students, interviews with the school’s staff, social media, and statistics on the school. The writer could learn about the characteristics of the students from the school website, beliefs of the students from surveys, the personality of the students in general from staff interviews, values of the students from social media, and the number of students and their age range from school statistics. This all would be valuable information that could be used by the writer to write an audience-centered message.


Newsom, D., & Haynes, J. (2013). Public Relations Writing: Forms & Style (10th ed.). Cengage Learning.

Explain and discuss the difference between an internal and an external public? Which one can be more difficult to write messages for? Why?

Since the number of publics is so vast, they are often split into two main types, internal and external publics. Internal publics are groups within an organization who share the institution’s identity; for example employees or the board of directors would be considered internal publics (Newsom & Haynes, 2013). External publics are considered to be groups of people that are outside of an organization like the media, customers, or state legislators. The main difference between the two publics is that internal publics are people who share the identity of the company or organization while external publics do not share an identity with the company or organization.

When it comes to writing messages it is often easier to write for internal publics. Internal publics often have a basic understanding of any of the jargon used within the company or organization and they also share the same the institution’s identity as the public relations writer. This makes creating messages easier because the writer is creating the message for someone who has at least a basic understanding of the company or organization. Writing messages for external publics is often more difficult as the writer needs to have a better understanding of the intended audience of the message. The writer would need to write a message that could not be misconstrued due to a lack of common ground; this means that the writer would need to take extreme care to avoid any jargon that would not be known by the external public. The writer would also need to make sure that the message is written in a style that would be best understood by the reader. For instance, if the intended recipient was a customer, then the writer would want to avoid lengthy statistics, scientific information, and words which the customer may not understand.


Newsom, D., & Haynes, J. (2013). Public Relations Writing: Forms & Style (10th ed.). Cengage Learning.


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