CommunicateHealth
Alt: A doodle aims a paper plane at another doodle and shouts, “Hold on! I’m trying to target you with information! “

Here has We ❤ Headquarters for Health Literacy, we are no strangers to the terms “target audience” and “target population” – they’re happy health products! But when you think about it, that’s not such a good way to refer to… well, just anyone.

“Target” sounds a bit aggressive, like the militaristic terms we’re trying to avoid. And it can make people feel like they are, uh, target – rather than prioritized, that’s what we mean! This connotation can become particularly risky when writing about marginalized communities.

Of course, your end user may never look at the document where you call them your “target audience” – or anything else. But strange things have happened! And as our elementary teachers liked to say, if you don’t use a word to speak at someone, you better not use it while talking about their.

So how do we talk about the people we are trying to reach in our internal communications, conference poster presentations, etc.? We have a few ideas – and these are super simple exchanges!

Try that:

  • Our primary audience for the campaign is black Americans between the ages of 25 and 44.
  • We prioritize people with disabilities in our outreach efforts.
  • Social media content has been very effective in reaching the target audience.

Not that:

  • Our target audience for the campaign are black Americans between the ages of 25 and 44.
  • We target people with disabilities in our outreach efforts.
  • Social media content has been very effective in reaching target audience.

The bottom line: Avoid the “target” audience – try “intended”, “priority” or “primary” instead.

Tweet about it: We often hear the term “target audience” in #HealthComm. @CommunicateHlth says it’s worth revisiting: https://bit.ly/3sb6IVx #HealthLit