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British Council Target Audiences

January 9, 2011

One basic issue in Public Diplomacy/Cultural Relations is who you seek to influence.  Here’s how the British Council reads the world geopolitically and demographically and hence derives its priorities.

The 2009-10 Annual Report identifies five  types of countries where the BC operates and gives examples of the countries that fall into these categories

Lifeline Countries eg Burma and Zimbabwe

Building Trust Countries eg Middle East and Pakistan

New and Emerging Economies eg India, China

Developing Countries eg Nigeria

Open and Developed Countries with strong pre-existing ties with the UK eg France, USA

From the 2008-11 Corporate Plan we see that it is the first three of these categories that are ‘Geographical Priorities’

countries and regions where there is, or may be potential for a lack of trust with the UK (Middle East, Near East and North Africa and Central and South Asia’

emerging economies (China, India and Brazil)

countries and territories where, because of conflict or a lack of access, the environment is particularly challenging (Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestinian Territories, Zimbabwe and Burma)

From the 2008 National Audit Office report, The British Council: Achieving Impact we find this on target groups

T1 – High-level decision-makers and leaders: are people in in key positions of influence including government ministers, important media figures and commentators, leading sports of culture personalities, national religious leaders and UK-based ambassadors of overseas countries

T2 – Key influencers: are current (or potential) leading members of organizations, groups, and networks who develop or deliver policy, or have significant influence on the lives and opinions of others.  They can also be ‘gatekeepers’ who provide access to T1 contacts.

T3- People with potential: are far more numerous.  They tend to be younger (under 35) and identified by category rather than being in key positions. They include students of English or those wishing to study overseas.

These target groups can be further segmented – the NAO report provides an example of how the T3 category in India was further subdivided into six segments based on age, English language ability, price sensitivity, level of internationalism and level of aspirations.

In the 2009-10 Annual Report these three groups are labelled as Leaders, Influencers and Aspirants.

All public diplomacy organizations have limited resources so there is always a question of how they are allocated.  In this case  they seem to reflect the UK foreign policy priorities.  However, in an organization like the BC expressing priorities and allocating resources are not actually the same thing.  This leads to two research questions. Firstly,  how do other PD organizations set priorities? Secondly, to what extent does organizational behaviour, including resource allocation actually follow expressed priorities?

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