Values, Experiences, & Beliefs: Understanding Your Audience

By Grant Wright, CEO

It’s interesting to me that some people seem wired to presume the worst or best in someone, no matter the actions of that someone. Standing on opposite sides of a big ‘6’ laid on the ground, two people will see the same thing but think differently. One sees a six, the other a nine. Both are right, but both could be adamant the other is an idiot.

When developing a position, we rely on three things – our values, experiences and beliefs. Values – the principles, standards and qualities that guide our decisions and the way we live our lives – are formed starting in childhood. They influence our judgment and, relatively speaking, over time become deeply set within us. Changing them is like changing the course of a supertanker by a rubber dinghy pushing on its side.

Experiences, too, are even further on the spectrum of being unchangeable. While we can later reinterpret the experience perhaps with a different lens of new information, the factual experiences themselves are set like values and not within our control.

Beliefs, on the other hand, are within our control. For example, whether you choose to believe the worst or best in the current presidential election, chances are you’ll be right, or at least think you are. While values and experience are relatively set, it’s beliefs we seek most to influence.

At (W)right On, we’re often heard saying ‘before communication starts, know your audience’ and ‘understand your goal of the particular communication.’ Is it to inform? To change an opinion? Cause an action? And this brings us back to understanding the audience’s values, experiences and beliefs, the last of which you may seek to change. But how to do this?

1. Research!

Before we begin engagements, we’ll often tell new client partners that they should expect to see fewer overt outcomes in the earliest days as this period should allow for behind-scenes research if not already conducted. It’s important to understand the target audience demographic and its alignment, or not, with the given product or service. Trying to communicate the merits of skateboards to senior citizens is like trying to sell retirement packages to 15 year olds. Our goal with research is to ensure communication programs are first accurate before they’re precise.

Creating a fake ‘ideal’ customer persona; studying competitors and how they connect with their audiences you wish were yours; monitoring social media discourse; conducting a survey and meeting one-on-one with members of your target audience are all ways to help know your audience better.

2. Strategy & Tactics

From there, strategy can be developed and tactics deployed to influence beliefs. These might involve bringing the person around the table to see the 6 or 9 from the other’s point of view; modifying the skateboard to a scooter, or the retirement package to an education package; or engaging influencer communications as part of a pull strategy. If we understand our audience, their values, experiences and beliefs, we can then develop a strategy that they are more likely to respond to.

3. Measurement

…a sticky word in public relations but absolutely essential. If your strategies don’t deploy feedback mechanisms and measurable parameters, how will you know if your strategies and tactics to shape beliefs are effective? Some of these parameters might be readily observable – social media statistics, share of voice, top of mind awareness, increased sales demonstrably linked to a specific campaign – while others like brand valuation measurement are less so. At (W)right On, being able to measure and then hone our efforts for best effect are so important that we’re certified by the Association of Measurement & Evaluation of Communications (AMEC) based in London, UK.

4. Close the Loop

With research, intentional strategy, tactics and measurement, closure for best effect comes by not being rigid in approach. Sometimes a communication program will begin with one strategy perhaps even influenced by best practice or success from another industry, but then adapt and become even stronger with new technology or information gained from effectiveness assessment. Some call this ‘continuous improvement’, but really this is just the machinery of a good communication program at work. More broadly, this is also reflective of communication industry evolution for those who keep up.

At (W)right On, we know perspective and context are key in communications, just as are continuous learning, new technologies and an open mind. Whether people see a six or a nine, both are right. Now that that’s settled, where do you go from there?

(W)right On Communications Adds Four Team Members

SAN DIEGO, Calif.; Oct. 20, 2016San Diego public relations agency (W)right On Communications has added four new team members. Aisha Belagam joins the agency as Communications Strategist, Collin Chappelle as Video Producer, Phelan Riessen as Lead headshot_aishaDeveloper and Teronda Williams as Marketing and Administrative Coordinator. With a multi-cultural background, Belagam brings experience in public relations, marketing, social media and advertising most recently with Vitality Medical and ViTRO Agency. She graduated magna cum laude from San Diego State University. Chappelle has been shooting both video and stills since 2004 and specializes in community journalism, business to business storytelling and commercial advertising.
Using the latest digital cinema equipment, including 6K-capable headshot_colincameras and aerial drones, Chappelle has collaborated with client partners such as Coca-Cola, the United States Marine Corps, AMWAY, Milk Life, NASCAR and many others. Chappelle holds a Master of Art in Commercial Photography degree from Savannah College of Art and Design. Riessen is a well-established web developer and known locally for his support of various technology and business events around town including RefreshSD, March Mingle and Startup Week. Williams’ experience in marketing and administration includes positions with La Vida Del Mar, CW6 Channelheadshot_phelan and the Rock Church, and she is a Cal State University San Marcos graduate.

“Our new team members bring excellent practice area knowledge and technical skill to help us provide the full spectrum of communications expertise to our client partners,” says Grant Wright, CEO of (W)right On Communications.

About (W)right On Communications


Founded in 1998 in Vancouver, British Columbia, (W)right On Communications is among California’s largest communications and public relations agencies. Supporting the hospitality, healthcare, energy, technology, professional services, government agencies, land development and other industries, San Diego-based (W)right On has produced results-driven media relations, social media, crisis communication, graphic design, videography, branding and marketing campaigns for client partners including hotels, hospitals, major utilities, startups, clean tech and renewable energy providers, land developers, city governments and universities among many others. To learn more about (W)right On, visit

Meet the Team: Aisha Belagam


headshot_aishaWe’re giving you the inside scoop on the entire WOC team with our “Meet the Team” series. This month, the spotlight is on our new Jr. Communications Strategist, Aisha Belagam.

Aisha brings a competitive advantage to the (W)right On team with her diverse background and unique upbringing. Her experiences in very different parts of the world including Salt Lake City, Utah and the island of Penang in Malaysia have challenged her to develop into a interculturally competent person.

She has accumulated broad experience in journalism, public relations, marketing and advertising with clients in various industries such as healthcare, consumer, technology, hospitality, entertainment and government. After graduating high school at the age of 16, Aisha attended San Diego State University and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Arts in Journalism and an emphasis in Public Relations.

Her love for writing, culture, socializing and traveling comes together perfectly in her position at (W)right On.

What would you be doing if you weren’t at your current job?

I would probably be in school working towards an M.B.A., becoming one step closer to owning my own business.

What’s one word you would use to describe yourself?


Fill in the blank. “If you really knew me, you’d know ____.”

About my love for anything by the water.

What super power would you like to have?

Mind reading

What would a “perfect” day look like to you?

One with the end-goal of happiness. Whether it’s a simple summer day at Del Mar beach or an extravagant time exploring Bangkok – it’s all about finding the joy in life.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in the past year?

Change is inevitable. Embrace it.

Best vacation you’ve had?

Bangkok, Thailand.

What’s your most embarrassing moment at work?

We were preparing to pitch to a doll brand at the advertising agency I worked at and the CEO asked us to share any personal experiences we had with the brand. What was supposed to be a private reply to the CEO ended up being sent to the entire agency, showcasing my cringe-worthy childhood story in a hot pink font with embarrassing photos. For the next few months, colleagues would reply to my emails with a hot pink cursive font. Curse you, “Reply All”.

Favorite quote?

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
― Oscar Wilde

If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would be cast as you?

Frieda Pinto

If you were stuck on an island and could only choose 5 CDs, what would they be?

  • Purple Rain by Prince
  • The Best of Ravi Shankar
  • Lenny Kravitz’ Greatest Hits
  • Aerosmith: Greatest Hits
  • Michael Jackson’s Greatest Hits

Fill in the blank. “People would be surprised if they knew___.”

That I ended up attending 10 different private schools with very different curriculums from elementary through high school because of all the moving I did.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Fake people

What TV show/movie is your guilty pleasure?


What’s one thing you can’t live without?


Favorite line from a movie?

“I love you.” “…Thanks.” – Breakfast at Tiffany’s

What’s the best gift you have ever received?

A very well-loved teddy bear

What do you like to do in your free time?

I enjoy fashion, culture, the beach, music, traveling, dining out, shopping, writing, and socializing.

Meet the Team: Jasmine – Marketing & Communications Coordinator


We’re giving you the inside scoop on the entire WOC team with our “Meet the Team” series. This month, the spotlight is on our new Marketing & Administrative Coordinator, Jasmine Demers.

Jasmine is a known as an outgoing, self-starter with a passion for marketing communication. As the Marketing & Administrative Coordinator, she is responsible for (W)right On’s internal communication efforts as well as the support of client, employee and management needs.

Jasmine received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Cal State San Marcos, where she held a position as the Student Affairs Marketing & Promotion Assistant. She played an integral role in developing a new student life program for the university, along with the creation and maintenance of an official CSU website and social media platforms.

She takes pride in being able to connect to an audience and provide content that is engaging, fun and meaningful. Jasmine also has a love for writing and was the Managing Editor for the university newspaper. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking with her husband and dogs, going to the beach, reading, watching movies and traveling.

What would you be doing if you weren’t at your current job?
I wouldn’t be able to sit still. I have always found a way to keep busy and I know I’d be looking for a way to progress in my career.

What’s one word you would use to describe yourself?

Fill in the blank. “If you really knew me, you’d know ____.”
If you really knew me, you’d know that I am a feminist and social justice advocate.

What super power would you like to have?
I would love to have healing powers. I think the world could use a lot less physical and emotional pain.

What would a “perfect” day look like to you?
A perfect day would be being outdoors with my family and dogs, drinking wine, going swimming and playing card/board games.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in the past year?
You are the biggest obstacle standing between yourself and happiness. Self-appreciation is key.

Best vacation you’ve had?
Some of my greatest memories are from trips to Disneyland with my husband. We hope to go again soon!

What’s your most embarrassing moment at work?
There was this time I was working as a pizza delivery driver while in college, and I dropped a pizza on the ground right in front of a customer. I cried in my car before bringing them a new one!

Favorite quote?
“I raise up my voice—not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard…we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” ―Malala Yousafzai

If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would be cast as you?
Chloe Grace Moretz

What’s your drink of choice?
It’s a tie between Moscato or Sangria. Just bring me both!

If you were stuck on an island and could only choose 5 CDs, what would they be?
10,000 Days by Tool, Speak Now by Taylor Swift, 1989 by Taylor Swift, 21 by Adele and Stripped by Christina Aguilera.

Fill in the blank. “People would be surprised if they knew___.”
People would be surprised if they knew that in high school I was the Drum Major of the marching band, the captain of my Academic Decathlon team, and a varsity cheerleader. Like I said before, I like to keep busy.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
For some reason, it really bothers me when people don’t say bless you. It’s not even a religious thing, it just seems polite I guess!

What tv show/movie is your guilty pleasure?
I’ve watched all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls four times. No Shame.

What’s one thing you can’t live without?
My family!

Favorite line from a movie?
“I fell in love the way you fall asleep; slowly and then all at once.” – The Fault in Our Stars

Do you have an office nickname? What is it?
The consensus so far is either Jazz or Jazzmanian Devil.

What’s the best gift you have ever received?
It’s really hard to choose, but it’s between a necklace that I was given by my husband while he was away at boot camp and a poem that was written for me by my dad after I graduated college.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I really love to hike with my dogs, go to the beach, watch movies and travel!