Written by Sophia Lopez.

Get Smart 2016

Generationally Speaking: Crafting Messages that Resonate with your Target Audience

In addition to the ever changing landscape of communications comes the challenge of engaging audiences that span several generations. In his Get Smart session, “Generationally Speaking: Crafting Messages that Resonate with your Target Audience,” Heath Riddles, Director at Elizabeth Christian Public Relations, will be discussing strategies for bridging the generational divide. We had a chance to sit down with Heath prior to his session to chat a little more about brand messaging, engagement, and the generational divide of digital vs traditional audiences.

WCA: In what ways do you engage across generations in your career?

I feel like the best thing I can do is speak to as many young people as I can about my experience in the professional world. I get a lot of requests from students and recent college graduates to come by the office and pick my brain about the PR industry. I never say no. I am always looking for opportunities to mentor young people and pay it forward. Sometimes that just looks like setting a good example or providing some guidance in the moment. I also love cultivating relationships with more seasoned and experienced professionals than myself. I network aggressively with other professionals who are where I’d like to be in five or ten years.

WCA: How can we balance our engagement efforts between younger, more digital audiences and older, traditional audiences?

A successful campaign is always going to be multifaceted and engaging on many fronts. The key is knowing who your audience is, where they go for their content, and how to speak to them in a way that they will hear the message. No two campaigns will ever be exactly the same. If your first step isn’t doing a lot of very thorough research, you should probably take a look at your process, because if you don’t know your audience well, you can end up wasting a lot of time and resources.

WCA: With so many voices competing for attention, what makes a brand’s message stand out to you?

One word: authenticity.

WCA: Can you tell us about a time when you succeeded in bridging the generational divide, and a time when it didn’t work out? What did you learn?

When I worked at the Long Center, we had 2,400 seats to fill for every show. We had to know our product, know our audience, and be extremely familiar with every avenue for communication, from the most traditional print advertising to the latest social platforms and digital solutions. We became extremely familiar with the back-end of Facebook, and we learned about strategies and tools like mobile precise geo-fencing. Most of the time, we had great success, but there were certainly times when we failed. With the competition as stiff as it is for the entertainment dollar in this town, we knew we had to be on the absolute cutting edge at every minute, and we knew we had to take some risks. So, of course there were going to be failures. The biggest lessons I learned? Data is king, research is crucial, flexibility is fundamental, and complacency is deadly.

WCA: What can attendees expect to learn from your panel?

I hope they come away from my panel with a better understanding of the big picture in terms of how communication is changing. Things are evolving fast, and yes, it’s hard to keep up, but I want them to understand that by following a few simple rules, they’ll always be ahead of the game.

Be ahead of the game! You don’t want to miss this opportunity to join in the discussion during Get Smart 2016. @WomenCommAustin #GetSmart2016. If you haven’t purchased your ticket but would like to attend, onsite registration opens at 12:30p.m. at the DoubleTree Austin, 6505 N Interstate 35. See you there!