As far as organizational communication goes, this is one question that many a communicator should always take into account. Place oneself into the target audience’s shoes and ask, “What’s in it for me?”
Whenever I teach business communication, the part on which I give most emphasis always is communication planning and audience analysis. The problem with some writing manuals is that they prescribe the “best” formats and step-by-step processes failing to take into account the various communicative contexts.
For example, many writing manuals would prescribe the up-front format – a brief and concise format that begins with the summary of the message. While this does work effectively in most business organizations, I have observed that some more traditional organizations would prefer a more academic format – the one with the typical intro-body-conclusion structure. It’s always a choice on what format would probably better suit specific contexts.
Everyone in the organization has his or her own politics to consider. The simple existence of management and subordinates and yes-men and rebels in organizations are a testament to that. It often hard to identify these from an outsider’s perspective. However, for internal communication, one can have a fairly easy time through continuous observation.
It does take a lot of skill, patience, and practice to be a good judge of audience expectations. The tricky part here is that you have to survey both the organizational culture and a specific target’s agenda for one to be able to plan an effective communication strategy. Goals are almost often when messages are conveyed to promote the greatest benefit for the audience.
Scouting and stalking skills are quite beneficial to be able to even get a sense of these things but as with the military and sports – intelligence is key. One might not have to be snooty to get sense of these things but an objective and keen eye to details will be typically sufficient.