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Five questions to ask before sending corporate communications with Jason Mudd | On Top of PR podcast

By On Top of PR

On Top of PR podcast: 5 questions for corporate communications with host Jason Mudd episode graphicLearn what five questions you should ask yourself and your team before sending any corporate communications to your audience with our host, Jason Mudd. Jason is the managing partner of Axia Public Relations.



Jason Mudd, On Top of PR host, helps companies get on Undercover Boss. He is a trusted adviser and dynamic strategist for some of America’s most admired brands. Since 1994, he’s worked with American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Southern Comfort, and Verizon. He founded Axia Public Relations in July 2002.




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Five things you’ll learn from this episode:

  1. The five questions you should ask yourself before you send out any corporate communications

  2. Why your audience isn’t “everyone” 

  3. Why it’s ok if your audience doesn’t know about your brand yet 

  4. Why you should stick to having three company messages for your audience 

  5. How you can make your message valuable to your audience


  • “You should ask yourself what does your audience know? And I promise you, it’s okay for the answer to be they don’t know anything.” — @jasonmudd9

  • “Now, the audience might know a lot about your company, your product, your service, your organization, your point of view, and thought leadership. And that’s good too, but we just need to establish a baseline of what people know.” — @jasonmudd9

  • “You have to be careful about offering too many options because people have analysis paralysis where you give them too many decisions and they can’t move. They don’t do anything, they’re uncertain, or they’re not sure where to go.” — @jasonmudd9

  • “You have to have a mindset of being helpful first, and once you have secured the audience’s awareness, then it’s about trust. Then it’s about consideration. Then it’s a decision.” — @jasonmudd9

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- Hello, I'm Jason Mudd, your host for On Top of PR. And today we're doing what's called a solo cast, where it's just you and me and we're talking and sharing advice and information about public relations. And today I wanna talk to you about the five questions you should ask yourself before you do any corporate communications, whether it's a email, or a website, or a news release, or a media pitch, or a memo to internal staff, or a letter to customers, or even a social media post, or a blog post. These are just five things that we have figured out over the years that are very helpful to ask. And I think that we're sharing with you so that you can be kind of holding your team and yourself accountable to doing the best work possible. Having something to kind of measure and gage against in a checklist as you do any type of internal, or external communications for your corporation, your nonprofit, or your organization in general. So, first of all, I'm just gonna outline what those questions are. So the first one is who do I wanna reach? What do they know? What do I want them to know? What do I want them to do? And then lastly, is this helpful? And does this help the audience either get better? Or does it make their, get better at their job? Make their day easier? Is it helpful to them? So those are the five things I wanna talk to you about. So let's start first with the first question, which is who do I want to reach? So this is really simply just defining your audience. Who are you going after? Who do you wanna talk to? Who do you wanna engage? This might be a buyer persona, an avatar, a target audience, but you really need to kinda think of who is it that you're trying to reach. And it really helps me to think of a real person that I know that meets this profile, or this demographic, or represents this audience, so that I can write to them, or communicate with them whether it's verbal or oral, or excuse me, oral or written. If I think of a real person that is in this audience, it just helps me be a better storyteller, a better communicator, and a better writer. So I really visualize them as if either we're having a conversation, or I'm genuinely writing just to them. And that helps it maintain a level of authenticity.

So who are you trying to reach? Again, it could be a demographic. It could be a persona, an avatar, and ideally you're thinking of a real person. But as you're thinking about demographics, is it a male, or female? Is it a mom, or someone who's single? Are they a parent, or a father? Are they a young person, or young professional? Are they a more senior individual? And this is especially true if you're thinking about B2B, business-to-business communication, or even B2C where it's business-to-consumer communication, but you should always just kinda be thinking about who is it I'm trying to reach. And please the wrong answer is gonna be everybody is a customer, and everybody is an audience, because that's not true. Even Walmart doesn't do business with everybody. There are people who prefer Target, or prefer going to the farmer's market, or a different store, or shopping online. Not everybody is a customer of Amazon. So you really need to kinda, and by the way you're not Walmart, Target, or Amazon and you probably don't have the budget to be that to all people. So really kinda think of who is your target audience? In fact, I was talking to somebody yesterday and they tried to tell me that everybody's their audience. But then as we started to talk more it became very clear that new parents is an audience, and people who are caring for the elderly is an audience. And those are his best clients, or customers, or the best audience to attract. As well was the income level that these people had. So as we talked further it became very clear that the higher income these families and households are, and the home they own, the more valuable it was to them as a customer. And while he has a product or service that is available to everybody, he really should focus his PR marketing communications dollars on those ideal customers. So think about that a little bit. The second question is gonna be, what do they know? And I promise you it's okay for the answer to be they don't know anything. They've never heard of us, they've never bought from us, they're unfamiliar with our brand, or our company or what we stand for. That's a much better answer to be that transparent and clear than it is to come up with attributes of your company of which they don't know. So for example, the same person I was talking to, I asked them that question. I said, "Well, what do they know about your company today?" And the answers were, that we'd been in business for five years, or three years I'm sorry, and five star reviews on every website, and that we're the best in the business, we get a lot of accolades, all of our customers are happy. But I asked 'em, I said, "Do people really know that? "Or are we getting ahead to what you want them to know?" And he was getting ahead to what they want them to know. And as we talked more, he said, really what do people know about his company today? It's people who have done business with them are very happy, and they know that, but he wasn't going after those people because he told me that the people that do come back to buy from him again they probably only need to buy once every 10 years, unless there's been an event in their life that has caused them to move.

So candidly every 10 years is when they can do business with him. And so clearly the audience doesn't know anything. The target audience doesn't know anything about his company. And that's okay. Now the audience might know a lot about your company, your product, your service, your organization, your point of view, and thought leadership. And that's good too but we just need to establish what I'll call a baseline of what people know. And if you don't know what they know then that's okay. You could do some research, and do some market testing to figure out what people know. But for the most part I find that people have so much real estate in their head that they're willing to devote to your brand, or their familiarity with your company and organization. And I think you just have to be really candid, and really honest with yourself as you're reflecting upon that. Then the third question is, what do we want them to know? So really what are you trying to communicate? There's a cliche, I don't know if it's true or not. But I hear in the military they tell you, tell them what you're gonna tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. And I think that's kind of the point of this is really think about what is it you want them to know? And I'm telling you, you have to prioritize that. It might be just one thing, maybe two, or three, and certainly no more than five things. But I just am a big believer in doing things in threes, being clear and concise, being smart, or being smart and brief. And I think for you to expect an audience to consume, retain, and work with, or apply more than three messages at once is probably gonna be too many. So when you're thinking about what do you want them to know? Keep it simple. K-I-S-S, KISS, right? Keep it short and simple. And that's my best recommendation to you. So when you're thinking about what you want them to know, it might be you have a new product, it might be that you're doin' a recall, it might be that you've made a mistake and you're apologizing for it, it might be that you've got new hours, there's new ways of running your business due to COVID. 

You might wanna check out the episode we had recently with Firehouse Subs, and they express that the one message they had to get out there was that they have to-go orders, and you can call ahead of time, or you can order through your app and pick up in store. And they realized that a lot of people just weren't thinking about that, they might know that you could call in an order and pick up in store, but they just felt like they had to remind people and push that out there. And it might seem obvious, but what happens again, going back to real estate people don't have a lot of real estate in their mind. They don't think about, or well, a lot of real estate in their mind for your brand. They're not thinking about you all the time. They're not thinking about you as much as you would like them to. So you really have to carve out that real estate, and plant those messages, and plant those seeds. The next question is, so we already figured out, who do you wanna reach? What do they know? What do you want 'em to know? Now, the next thing is, what do you want them to do? And so you really have to think about what is it that I want them to do? And that might be like we mentioned earlier with Firehouse to order ahead of time through the app, or through phone. It might just be downloading your app. It might be visiting your website. It might be catching our podcast, or vodcast, reading a blog post, signing up for our email list, attending our event, vote for our candidate, donate to our cause, write to a Congressman, or share a post on social media. There's a lot of call to actions, CATs that you could offer, but you really need one clear call to action. One clear step or action. It could be as simple as follow us on social media. And then maybe you list out a few of the social media platforms that you're active in. But I will tell you that you have to be careful about offering too many options because people have analysis paralysis, where you'll just give them too many decisions and they can't move, they don't do anything, they're uncertain, or they're not sure where to go. Very similar if you're thinking about social media, it's okay occasionally to post maybe on Facebook and say, follow us on Instagram, or follow us on YouTube, or connect with us on Twitter. But if you're constantly pushing people on Facebook to Twitter, maybe they don't like Twitter, maybe they don't use Twitter, maybe they don't prefer Twitter. So be careful, try to stay native to the platform you're on and offer them a way to engage with you within that same platform instead of transferring them to another website, another platform, and maybe even have to create a yet another account. So when it comes to, what do you want them to do? Just think through strategically, what's easy for them? And balance what's easy with them with also obviously what's best for you. And what gets the action you want them to take across that finish line, and gets them to take that action. If it's easy on them, that's probably better. So I would always think about what's the easiest action we can ask them to take? Then the last question, the fifth question is, is this helpful to the audience? Does this make the day better for the person reading it? Does it make it easier for them to do their job? Does it make them better at their job? Does it give them a way to save time, save money, get more done, look good in front of their spouse, or their significant other, or someone that they're trying to impress? Does it put money back in their pocket book? Does it get them the access they need, or the solution that they're looking for? Basically, whatever you do should be helpful, whether that's insightful content, whether that just makes them better.

So with anything you're communicating, don't be selfish. Don't make it all about you. Put the spotlight on the audience, put the spotlight on the reader, or the viewer, or the audience that you have been trusted to engage with. But a lot of corporate communications is all about us, and the company, and the people. Candidly it's kinda selfish or self serving. And instead reposition it and make it valuable to the audience, build trust with them. We were having a conversation recently with a company about LinkedIn, and I just kind of explained to them I think we've talked about this in other solo casts, the idea of the first level is to build awareness, the second level is to build trust, the third level is to build consideration, and the last one is decision. And a lot of times people reach out on LinkedIn and they're jumpin' right to the decision phase, and it's just like showing up at a bar, or a restaurant, or a social event, you find somebody very attractive and you just walk up to them and you propose marriage to them. As opposed to starting from the beginning of building awareness, introducing yourself, starting a conversation. Then moving from that first initial awareness on to building trust, and then building consideration of do I wanna spend more time with this person? Do I wanna get to know this person more? And then lastly, maybe you propose going out on a date, or after a significant amount of time propose getting married. But I think a lot of times we have this mindset that we've gotta jump straight to a lead, and a close, or relationship, or an engagement, or a contract, or a transaction. And so I think you've gotta be put on a lens, or a mindset of being helpful first, and once you have secured their awareness, and visibility then it's about trust, then it's about consideration, then it's a decision. When I'm consulting with companies they're like, hey we need to get X number of leads right away, how do we monetize our investment in PR? How do we monetize our investment in marketing? And again, it starts with a funnel. You've gotta know how many leads do you need to get to a closed deal, and then start working on leads, and have those leads go through that funnel like I said, awareness, trust, consideration, then decision. And if you try to move too quickly, you'll lose trust. If you try to move too quickly, you'll alienate audiences. It won't come across as authentic, and it'll come across candidly, consciously or subconsciously as too eager. People will be skeptical. Maybe even a little bit of a desperation might show.

So there you go, that's five questions to consider before you do any corporate communications. And I think this is a helpful list in your personal life. When you're communicating with your loved ones, your family, your friends, your children, your spouse, your neighbors. Or when you're negotiating buying a car or anything, you can use all of these elements and really think through each presentation you make, each conversation you have, each written communication you have. Everything again from a media pitch news release, blog post, email blast, website page, landing page, et cetera. So I hope this was helpful. Thank you for listening and watching this if you're on YouTube or somewhere else. If you have topics you'd like us to discuss on this show, please do so, please submit a comment, and we would love to have a comment of what you'd like to hear from us. Almost like a DJ taking requests, we take requests, and would love to hear them. Also, if you like this episode, or you like what we're doing, please be sure to share, subscribe, and or leave us a review. That'll really encourage us. But more importantly it'll help more people find us, who would benefit from this same content. Again this is Jason Mudd with Axia PR, your host for On Top of PR. Thank you for watching today.


- [Announcer] This has been On Top of PR with Jason Mudd, presented by ReviewMaxer.

Topics: On Top of PR, solocast

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