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How to Gather Information on Target Audiences List

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Questions for Gathering Information on a Target Audience

Questions to answer to ensure comprehensive knowledge about target audiences.

  • What does the target audience already know about contamination in fish and its effects on human health?
  • What are the target audience’s possible misconceptions about contamination in fish and its impacts on human health?
  • What are the target audience members’ relevant attitudes, beliefs and perceptions of barriers to change?
    • Examples of common barriers to getting the message are:
      • Literacy barriers - Do not assume that everyone can read. 43 million U.S. adults possess low-literacy skills. U.S.-born adults make up two-thirds of adults with low levels of English literacy skills in the United States. Non-U.S.-born adults comprise 34 percent of the population with low-literacy skills, compared to 15 percent of the total population. White and Hispanic adults make up the largest percentage of U.S. adults with low levels of English literacy, 35 percent and 34 percent respectively.
      • Sensory and cognitive barriers - Vision, hearing, or cognitive challenges
      • Language barriers - In addition to non-English speaking target audiences, what the message means to the audience could be an issue. Target audience members have their own personal experiences and expectations, which affect how they understand the messages. This experience may give messages unintended meanings with unintended effects (e.g., avoiding eating fish altogether.
  • How ready is the target audience to change? Based upon the Stages of Change Model. The basic premise of the stages-of-change construct, the central construct of the transtheoretical model, is that behavior change is a process and not an event and that individuals are at varying levels of motivation, or readiness, to change. People at different points in the process of change can benefit from different interventions, matched to their stage at that time. By knowing an individual’s current stage, you can help set realistic program goals. Messages, strategies, and programs can be tailored to the appropriate stage. Five distinct stages are identified in the stages-of-change construct:
    • Precontemplation
    • Contemplation
    • Decision/determination
    • Action
    • Maintenance
    • It is important to note that this is a circular, not a linear, model. People do not go through the stages and “graduate”; they can enter and exit at any point, and often recycle. For further reading: Prochaska, J. O., & Velicer, W. F. (1997). The transtheoretical model of health behavior change. American Journal of Health Promotion, 12(1), 38–48
  • What are the benefits that the target audience members already associate with making the behavioral changes necessary to reduce risk of exposure to contaminated fish?
  • What are the social, cultural, and economic factors that will affect program development and delivery?
  • When and where (times, places, states of mind) can the target audience best be reached?
  • Which, if any, individuals either have particular influence with the target audience, control access to it, and what is their degree of influence?
  • What are the communication channels (e.g., mass media, organizational meetings, internet sites) that the target audience use, prefer and find credible?
    • Use different media channels. Fewer and fewer individuals rely only on traditional media or direct conversation for their health information. Many people are now regular users of websites and email. Still others now see email as totally outmoded by fast-paced social media. The website must be understandable and easy to navigate.
    • Certain populations may not have regular internet access.
  • What are the target audience’s preferences in terms of learning styles, appeals, language and tone?
  • What is the information likely to be of greatest interest to the audience?
  • What information will the target audience probably want to know once its members develop some awareness of the risk?
  • What amount of time is the target audience likely to give to receiving and assimilating the information?

Cultural Differences

There may be challenges associated with gathering information on target audiences from environmental justice communities. In order to realize actual communication – that is, a process of respectful information exchange – agencies, in particular, need to work to enhance their skills as active, flexible, and open listeners.

Agencies need to hear information that comes to them in unexpected forms and be open to information that provides unexpected meaning. For example, in some cultures, feedback may be communicated in indirect ways because it is seen as impolite to disagree, or that giving an honest but negative comment may mean a loss of face. This is where having built a relationship with a community will help to identify verbal and non-verbal cues about an indirect comment and to seek an honest comment that can be understood.

It is important to begin building trust between the FCA issuing agency and the target audiences early in order to gather information necessary to learn about the characteristics of target audiences and ultimately be successful in communicating and disseminating the FCAs.

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Building Trust

Building trust is important while learning about target audiences as well as during implementation and evaluation of FCAs. Many immigrant and low-income communities place a strong emphasis on quality relationships. They need to know that someone cares, is sincere, has their interests in mind (as opposed to the agency’s interest) and there is follow-through on commitments. These relationship features do not come about in a short term, but rather must be developed over time.

For example, depending on the target audience, one way to develop and maintain a long-term relationship is to have regular – perhaps once a month or a quarter – meetings (these could be over coffee, breakfast or lunch) or to pay routine visits to [a community group’s] office, even when there is nothing the FCA issuing agency needs their help on. During these visits, show genuine interest in the community group’s activities, and where appropriate, find out if there are ways to help them in some of their activities, even if those activities do not directly pertain to the FCA.

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Why People Fish/Importance of Fishing

There is a myriad of social and economic reasons that people fish, such as relaxation, being outdoors, outdoor sports, getting away from demands, communing with nature, and providing food for the family. In addition, within many ethnic communities fishing plays a key social role.

For many people, fishing is also an important activity for food, recreation, and as a way to be outdoors with family and friends. Fishing is an enjoyable activity that has many social benefits, particularly for Native Americans.

Why people may increase or decrease their fish consumption:
  • Enjoyment
  • Knowledge about their food (One reason for this preference was that some participants viewed local fish as a more sustainable food source, the use of which benefitted the community)
  • Desire to conserve fish stocks
  • Knowledge of health risks
  • Knowledge of health benefits (e.g., lean protein, fatty acids, brain development, lowering cholesterol)

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