To Be, Rather Than to Seem: Understanding your audience’s values

Years ago, for Eckel & Vaughan’s 10th anniversary, we were asked to define our “why.” Why do we enjoy this job? Why do we care? What drive us day after day?

Still today, these cards are posted in the office kitchen so we’ll be reminded of why we do what we do. I recently found myself reflecting on one particular response: “People deserve to be understood.”

As our work has continued, we’ve had the opportunity to engage with communities across the Southeast—and especially in our home state of North Carolina. From the mountains to the beach, North Carolinians are bonded by a unifying mindset—people deeply care about their home.

North Carolinians grow up here, learn here, and stay here. They are invested. They care deeply about their what’s happening in their backyard and who their neighbors are. They are passionate both about their pasts and their futures.

Whether a big-city business owner, a small-town parent, a deep-sea fisherman, or an avid-hiker, North Carolinians all have a depth that’s not always easily seen. Each person has unique life experiences giving them authentic perspective—and what they care about is not always obvious.

For many of our clients, we have the privilege of bringing these perspectives to life—in conversations among decision makers and in the wide-open spaces of traditional and social media.

Often, the loudest, the most powerful, and the most organized drive the agenda. Meanwhile, the hardworking, the kind, and the compassionate go to work, raise their families, and fade into the durable fabric of the region.

To us, it’s meaningful work to give everyone a seat at the table. How can you bring people together to solve problems in your industry?

The first step? Start conversations worth talking about.