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  • Writer's pictureNonprofit Learning Lab

Audience Personas – the Stars of Your Content Strategy

This is a guest blog by Deborah Brozina.

Deborah will be presenting a workshop titled "Get to Know Your Donors to Increase Engagement: Legal Aid and their LGBTQ+ Audience" at the Nonprofit Lab in Philadelphia on March 21, 2024! Use our discount code friend50 for $50 off your registration!

When we create fictional characters in movies and TV, we build out every facet of that person. No detail is overlooked. A small army of people work to create the space that person inhabits to make it as real as possible. 

The same should happen for audience personas in your content strategy. Don’t be afraid of detail – embrace it. 

I’ll give you the example of Robyn McCall. She’s the character played by Queen Latifah in The Equalizer TV series. The show is a re-boot of a re-boot. It was first a TV series in the 1980s with Edward Woodward playing the lead, and in 2014 and 2018, a movie franchise with Denzel Washington.

How do you make that character fresh? Details. Lots of details. 

I’ve included a couple of pictures from the living room set from the first season of the show. The brilliant production designer, Beth Rubino, and her team made each selection with care. Each choice expresses a facet of Robyn McCall. 

If you look at the bookcase, you’ll see lots of historical biographies and world history books. There are books by Bob Woodward, biographies of JFK, a history of the Arab world. There is both African and Asian art on the shelves. It speaks to her years working overseas and dealing with the troubles in the world. She is trying to solve the problems of the world and she’s looking for clues.

On a side table over a collection of family photos are a collection of antique guns – not surprising for an art collector and expert markswoman. Oh, and those family photos? They were made with the actors from the show in specific settings. They are Robyn’s memories of specific times and places.

Most of these artifacts will never be seen by the audience in any detail. What they do is conjure the character not only for the actors, but all of the crew who are working to make the show as believable as possible. It makes the world we are asking the audience to step into as real as possible. For them, and for us. 

Take the time to think through your audience personas. Give them the same loving attention given to a TV character. Make them as real as possible. The details will make them come alive and prevent you from creating stereotypes and introducing biases. What do they read? What do they wear? What’s in their grocery bag?

Then, in speaking to this one, fictional individual, you will create a more personal message that speaks to the entire audience. Your content will improve as will your engagement. You’ll keep your story straight. 


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