Toolkit: Promoting and Raising Awareness on Refugee Rights

Defining your target audience in 5 simple steps

The first step to conducting any kind of public education is to identify your target audience and to learn how to effectively reach and speak to them. If you focus on a specific target audience you will get better results. The following elements will help you get started:

Step 1: What is your purpose?

Above all your organization or group should be clear about the purpose of your initiative. Are you promoting community support for refugees? Are you working towards policy change? Hoping to mobilize more people around private sponsorship? Once that is determined, you can establish your desired outcomes.

Step 2: What is/are your desired outcome(s)?

Step 3: Who should your audience be and what do you know about them? 

  • Who should you address as your audience? (Bear in mind that it usually more effective to target those who are sympathetic or undecided, rather than those who are firmly opposed).
  • What are their values, characteristics, the activities they enjoy, the causes they might support?
  • What motivates their decisions? What moves them?
  • Where are they most likely to go in order to get their information?
  • What needs, challenges, fear and frustrations do they have? 

Step 4: How and where can you connect with them?

  • What media do they use?
  • What outreach channels do you already have available? Are the people you are targeting more likely to get the information on social networks? If so, which ones?
  • Are they most likely to respond to email or telephone outreach?
  • Are they technologically savvy enough to engage through virtual meetings (ie. webinars)?

Step 5: Mapping audiences through persona creation

  • A persona is your audience's various characters: going through the exercise of creating your personas will make audience definition an easy and simple process. This persona creation worksheet will help get you started.


  • Be as specific as possible:everybody is not your audience. If you try to reach everyone at the same time, your message will most likely reach or appeal to very few people.
  • Having multiple audiences is possible and even necessary. Your primary audience is usually your current supporters; the secondary audiences are those who you are trying to reach out to in order to expand your audience.
  • Understanding where your audience’s needs and frustrations lie will help you shift the conversation from how they can help you to how you can help them.
  • Consider sending out a short survey, holding a conference call or teleconference, or use a meeting to consult your supporters

Refer to this diagram by Trail of Papercuts to get a better sense of who you are trying to reach out to: 

For more resources on audience definition, including survey platforms, advocacy guides and audience mapping, click here.