Who To Talk To and How To Talk to Them

Knowing which audiences are most likely to respond increases the potential for effective messaging that can lead to real policy changes. Zeroing in on a target audience for messaging also makes best use of the finite resources of most organizations. Based on the survey and its corresponding demographic information, two groups stand out as most likely to support net neutrality.

We call the first of these two groups “core supporters” because of their comfort and facility with the Internet, belief in its role as a public service, and familiarity with the net neutrality issue. These core supporters are heavy Internet users, spending more than 20 hours a week on personal, rather than professional, use. Between the ages of 18 and 39, predominantly male, Caucasian, and liberal leaning, many core supporters are registered Democrats and have an annual household income of over $100k per year.

Core supporters should be offered compelling messages about how ISPs seek to change their Internet experience. It should include steps they can take immediately to prevent these companies from controlling the content, applications, and services they use.

We call the second group “persuadables." This group did not identify net neutrality as either a problem or solution until exposed to a measured debate on the issue. But after learning about net neutrality and the case for an open Internet, this group responded with full support. Demographically, persuadables tend to be African Americans and/or women, unmarried, and liberal. Many baby boomers, or those 60 years old and over, also fall into the persuadable category. A significant number of those outlined above reside in the southern region of the U.S. or in rural areas. Persuadables make annual households incomes ($30k-$50k) that are considerably lower than core supporters.

Both net neutrality advocates and those campaigning for the major ISPs are targeting persuadables. Many persuadables may feel unsure about which camp is truly invested in protecting their interests. Messaging for this group should first clearly define net neutrality, uncovering who has constructed competing definitions and why. Messages should then focus on publicizing the actions required to save the open Internet.

The following chapter offers concise recommendations for messaging based on the Harmony Institute methodology outlined in Part II of this guide.