Using Target Audience Analysis to Aid Strategic Level Decisionmaking by Dr. Steve Tatham, Strategic Studies Institute Letort Papers
The author explains how sophisticated social science research and behavioral profiling can be used to warn us of impeding issues and how that information might be used by senior strategy makers as a tool for testing and refining strategy. He makes a compelling case that the science of Target Audience Analysis (TAA) is now so well advanced that it must become a key component of future strategic decisionmaking. The author views social media as just another communication conduit, and sees this as a continuum of wrong activities being undertaken. In Iraq and Afghanistan, he saw how big public relations and marketing companies cost the U.S. taxpayer millions of dollars in ultimately failed communication and propaganda campaigns. Social media, he argues, has become yet another blank checkbook for companies who rely on creative energy rather than empirical understanding to produce communications campaigns. Instead, he argues for far greater resource in TAA and greater understanding by federal agencies of what is and is not possible or desirable in their communication efforts. To this end, he looks in particular at the U.S. Agency for International Development relief work in Pakistan and argues that the communication objectives set at the start of the projects are almost unattainable, even naive in their presumptions.