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Identify your audience. Your communication plan need not attempt to convince everybody of the benefits of affordable housing. Since your goal is to advance a housing trust fund, your initial audience will be the decision making body with the authority to enact the fund. Your audience should also include those entities and individuals that influence decision makers. Decision makers often rely on the media, prominent business and community leaders, and in some cases, the general public to help determine their position on a given issue.

Understand your audience. The goal of any communications plan is to be persuasive. The key to being persuasive is to understand your audience, and what matters to them. As obvious as this may sound, often communication plans are developed without sufficient consideration of how the intended audience thinks and feels about the issue.

Public opinion research, polling, focus groups and stakeholder interviews are all good tools for understanding your audience. Over the past ten years, there has been significant research on the public perceptions of affordable housingThough we can infer many important, general trends, there is no substitute for local, timely research when developing an effective plan.

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