Toolkit: Who's Your Audience?

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To effectively communicate about the complexities and implications of climate change, it's important to understand the audiences encountered and their needs and special interests. There are a number of excellent resources already developed to help.
Module 3 study guide
A good first step is to explore the NPS Interpreting Climate Change Self-Study Module for Knowledge of the Audience. It provides a well organized and interactive approach to help you identify and investigate your likely audiences and techniques that may serve them. (More information about this and other training courses is available on our Training page.) You can also find a specific Communication Guide to help tailor programs and products to different audiences.
Social Science Research
If you already familiar with the fundamentals of knowing your audience, but need some specific information about your key visitors, here are some additional sources that may be helpful. These resources are not a comprehensive list, but some starter suggestions for researching several likely types of audiences frequently found in the parks.
Park Visitors
CCEP survey thumbnail
Are visitors noticing the impacts of climate change on national parks? Would they like to learn more about it during their visits? Are visitors willing to change their behavior at parks to mitigate climate change? These questions and more are answered in the Climate Change Education Partnership survey [PDF] that occurred in national parks and national wildlife refuges in 2011-2012.
American Public
Yale publication front cover
The most recent climate change audience research usually can be found from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. The regularly-issued Climate Change in the American Mind reports (latest: March 2015 are especially valuable because the survey is repeated at periodic intervals, meaning results can be tracked to see how Americans' perceptions are changing (if at all). The Six Americas reports (latest: October 2014) break down the national audience into six categories and track how these groups change in size and perceptions over time.
Climate opinion map

Yale Climate Opinion Maps
Curious to learn about the opinions on climate change within your local community? Yale's Climate Opinion Maps let you explore responses to different climate-related questions broken down by state, congressional district, and county.

Knowledge of Climate Change cover
Find out what your audience might already know with the American's Knowledge of Climate Change report. What percentage of Americans know what the greenhouse effect is? How many have heard of ocean acidification? What percentage understands that carbon dioxide traps heat? Take a look at this report to make sure you don't lose your visitors by talking over their heads.
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Stanford University Climate Adaptation Poll, March 2013
In 2013, researchers examined beliefs and attitudes regarding environmental problems, policies and solutions and how these attitudes influence political behavior. Look for the summary of results; the entire series of questions and responses is also available.
Frames and Communication Guides
Once you have a handle on your audience, the next step is to determine a good strategy or approach to use connecting them to climate impacts and significance at your site. Our Framing the Issue section of the toolkit has few tips and possibilities to consider.

Last updated: February 5, 2024


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