It’s a significant conundrum. The public doesn’t like being profiled and targeted; yet it also doesn’t appreciate being bombarded with irrelevant information. Public Affairs and political players need to communicate, often with finite resources (financial, people, etc…); and yet the public expects to be spoken with (not at) in a meaningful way. As Jason Kenney learned this week, there are acceptable and vilified ways of reaching out to the public.

I’m not going to offer suggestions of how to reach out to Canadians in this post. I want to share a resource for public affairs folks. It’s one of many, of course. I learned about this particular tool yesterday during an all day session for a public affairs organization at which I had the opportunity to not only speak, but to listen.

The resource is called PRIZM. It was assembled by the folks at Envrionics Analytics using data from a variety of sources including “two versions of the Census: Statistics Canada’s official release and [the Environics] Adjusted Census, which reconciles the effects of random rounding and suppression by the government.”

PRIZM organizes Canadians into 66 lifestyle types based on consumer habits, geodemographics, psychographics and social values. Among the data is information on the role of digital and social media – which can be applied to online efforts. Basically, it’s a goldmine for PA folks including those with a focus on digital.

A broad-brush version of the database allows you to peak at some sample data based on a postal code search. This public feature apparently averages neighbourhoods for a taste of the information that’s available. I learned that when a search in my own neighbourhood seemed only partially correct (I won’t say which part). A for-pay version will provide detail down to the postal code level. Information includes age, housing tenure, education, job types, ethnic presence, social values, interests/preferences.

While the tool is extremely valuable, it’s actual value is recognized in how you use it. That could make the difference between a successful campaign and being front page news.

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