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Communications and Marketing


As you develop messages, it's vital to have a deep understanding of who you're talking to. Identifying your audience — and its relationship to the university — is a vital part of honing your message and making it effective. 

Universities speak to a diverse group of audiences. Some of our key audiences include:

  • Academic influencers
  • Alumni
  • Community stakeholders
  • Current students
  • Donors
  • Faculty
  • Media
  • Parents and families
  • Prospective students
  • Staff

While university media vehicles are often delineated into traditional audience segments like those above, these segments alone are insufficient to fully understand our diverse audiences.

In reality, there's a great deal of differentiation within traditional audience segments such as alumni, faculty and staff, as well as considerable overlap between them. What's more, on social media, we do not determine the audience — it is self-selected and includes overlapping audience categories.

For each message we develop, we need to understand who the audience is, why they matter, what they need from us, and what we want them to do on behalf of the university.


  • Context Is Key

    Audience mindsets [pdf] can help us consider the contexts in which our audiences interact with the university. They include the following roles:

    • Deliverers: those who deliver on the university’s core value proposition
    • Believers: those who celebrate and trust the university
    • Champions: those who see our worth and invest in the university
    • Influencers: those who shape the university’s future
    • Beneficiaries: those who benefit from the university’s work

    As we move between different audience segments and mindsets, it is imperative to pivot messages in terms of the brand personality traits and tone we express. 

  • Audience Mindsets document.


Audiences pro tip.

Going Deeper

If you have identified your audience in the traditional audience segmentation (alumni, students, faculty, etc.), take it a step deeper to get to the mindset. Ask yourself about your audience's level of engagement with the university, what that engagement is based on (athletics? academics? other?) and how it might be taken further.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.