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Client Research And Audience Centered Communication

I’m working on a communications report and need support to help me learn.


Regardless of where in the world you are working or who you are working with, developing a comprehensive understanding of the clients, organizations, manufactures, businesses, and industry leaders that you work with is key to your professional success.

In the “Self Assessment 1” assignment you completed, you considered how culture impacts your perspectives, expectations, interpretations, and world views. In this assignment, you will conduct research about your assigned client to develop a comprehensive understanding of your client, including their background, interests, goals, professional and corporate culture, and, as applicable, their philanthropy.

Businesses are often conceptualized as one-dimensional entities who operate based on the single goal of making as much money as possible. While ensuring that a business is profitable is obviously necessary, businesses, like the people who run them, have varied interests and perspectives, as well as different beliefs about what is valuable or what expenses are worthwhile. For example, through their Innovative Learning program, Verizon (Links to an external site.) has recently begun working with Title 1 schools to integrate technology throughout the schools and disseminate devices to the students. Additionally, they are building high tech STEM labs in middle schools (and are soon expanding to high schools), and have worked with ASU to help develop appropriate STEM curricula and implement teacher training. In addition to accessibility and education, Verizon also has sustainability goals (Links to an external site.), goals for human prosperity (see their Reskilling and Upskilling (Links to an external site.) and Employee Volunteers (Links to an external site.) pages), and offers a variety of grants (Links to an external site.).

Similarly, your prospective clients understand themselves as fitting in with and being part of the communities they exist in in some way. As a professional, you must develop a comprehensive understanding of your clients’ values, perspectives, and needs in order to develop solutions that help them achieve their goals.


To develop a comprehensive understanding of your client (client set for brewery groups), including:

    • Your client’s history
    • Your client’s values
    • Your client’s goals
    • Your client’s needs
    • Your client’s goals and objectives
    • Your client’s cultural perspective
    • Your client’s place, perceived place, or desired place in the larger community

As well as to develop audience centered communication competencies, including:

    • Audience appropriate openings and closings in emails
    • Clear, complete, and targeted messages
    • Understanding what the specific audience you are addressing needs or wants from you
    • Thinking about your message from the perspective of your specific audience
    • Organizing information and/or messages so it is easy for your specific audience to follow and understand your message
    • Using standard formatting to make your message clear, organized, easy to read, and professional in appearance


Through the analysis of an assigned client, this assignment develops a foundation for achieving the following GenEd Human and Cultural Diversity assessment objective:

  • SLO1: Demonstrate the ability to see issues from the perspective(s) of other groups/cultures by describing the values and communication styles found in groups different from one’s own and the way in which those differences can affect styles of verbal and nonverbal communication.
  • Satisfactory: 1) Student demonstrates adequate understanding of the complexity of elements important to members of another group/culture. 2) Student recognizes and participates in cultural differences in communication and begins to negotiate a shared understanding based on those differences
  • Exceeds Expectations: 1) Student demonstrates sophisticated understanding of the complexity of elements important to members of another culture. 2) Student articulates a deep understanding of group/cultural differences and is able to skillfully negotiate a shared understanding based on those differences.

Assignment Overview and Prompt

For this assignment, you will respond to a prompt, which is presented as an email from your project manager, Maya Harris. As such, you will respond to the prompt as though you are responding to an email.

Because you are responding to an email from your project manager Maya Harris, it is important that you write your response as though you are actually responding to your project manager.


Client Acquisition

Maya Harris <mayaharris@engineeringsolutions.com>
Tuesday, 6/8/2021 8:13 AM
To: You <you@engineeringsolutions.com>

Good Morning,

I hope you had a restful weekend and got a chance to enjoy the beautiful weather.

As I explained in the project review meeting last week, I want to acquire [your assigned client’s name]. As you know I’m interested in pursuing some new sustainability projects, and [your assigned client’s name] has expressed interest in moving in that direction. But we’ll need to come up with something innovative and inspiring to get their attention.

To get us started, each of the members of your team are going to do research and analysis on this client to figure out where they’re coming from, where they want to be, and where they see themselves in the future. Then, we will show them that we can help them achieve that future.

Get me a report on [your assigned client’s name] by next week. I want to know them by the time I’m done reading, and I want you living and breathing them by the time you’re done with your report.

I also want you to find some examples of sustainability projects that other entities similar to [your assigned client’s name] have taken on recently. This will give us inspiration for our project idea, and ultimately help us show our client what sustainability in their field looks like in practice. Find one example in the U.S. and one abroad – places like Sweden, Norway, South Africa, Germany, Japan, and Denmark are sure to turn up something helpful.

I’m putting everyone on this individually because all of you need to know this client inside and out, and some of you will find things that others might miss. Plus, some of you will be more thorough than others and I want to know who those people are.

I look forward to reading your reports next week,


Things to Consider

Audience Centered Communication

Because the primary audience for your report is your project manager, Maya Harris, you must consider her expectations, preferences, communication style, requests, and perspective as you complete your report. Below are some things that you know about your boss:

What you know about Maya Harris:

        • The youngest of 4 children, Maya Harris lived in New Zealand until she was 15. At 15, her parents (from Ghana and Norway), both doctors who worked with Doctors Without Borders, accepted teaching positions at Stanford University in California.
        • Maya holds a BS in Chemistry and Soil Science (California Polytechnic State University), and a MA and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering (UC Berkeley).
        • Maya Harris has worked for: The DOD; Caltrans; General Motors; and Equipoise Corporation.
        • As a project manager, Maya Harris concurrently oversees 1-7 projects at a time, depending on project scope and client profile. The firm entrusts Harris with many of its most important projects.
        • Harris boasts a portfolio full of large, high profile projects and highly sought after clients. She is well known for her organization, thoroughness, creative thinking, and leadership.
        • She expects high quality, innovative, thoughtful, and thorough work from her teams.
        • She is always on the lookout for excellent team members, and has a knack for building symbiotic teams, improving her teams’ and firm’s competitive edge and rates of success.
        • Harris expects team members to be resourceful, reliable, and collaborative.

Getting Answers to Your Questions

In professional instances like this, your superiors are likely to assume that you have knowledge that you may not actually have. For example, what information is she expecting in the report? How should it be formatted? What citation style should you use? Often times, co-workers or office administrators are great resources for answers to these kinds of questions, and many companies have specific format guidelines for various document types. But sometimes you’ll need to use your best judgement, and you must always take your specific audience into account to make your work shine.

In this case, we will assume that you’re new to the company, and aren’t really sure what to do. Thankfully, you have a friend who works for the same company, so you ask them for guidance. This is what they tell you:

                • Citation Style: The company, Engineering Solutions, uses IEEE citation style (Links to an external site.) (as you suspected!)
                • What to Include: Client research reports must always include:
                    1. Background and history
                    2. Location information, including general location history, population and demographic data, and topographical notes
                    3. Client values and/or goals, as publicly stated via mission statements/”About” info on websites, as well as via any relevant news articles
                        1. Instances of the client taking actions or implementing policies that support their value claims, such as a company who claims to have/support strong family values who also offers 12 months paid maternity leave to employees
                    4. List of recently completed, current, and planned projects with 1-3 sentence summary, listed in descending order of recency
                    5. However, different project managers will want some additional info, too, and Maya Harris is well known for her thoroughness, organization, and planning. This means you’ll need to include the additional information that she specifically requested in her email.
                  • Document Formatting: Concerning report formatting…. well, when your friend started explaining it to you your eyes glazed over, so they emailed you this empty shell document downloadthat has the general format they usually use laid out for you. Your friend even included some general directions for what you must include in each section!
                      • But remember, you’ll need to add headings and subheadings for the additional information that your boss asked for in her email.
                      • You can also change the style as you see fit, create a different cover page, etc.

*IMPORTANT*: This assignment has two overarching purposes:

        • to develop a comprehensive understanding of your client
        • and to develop audience centered communication competency.

As such, you are expected to carefully and thoughtfully consider all aspects of this assignment based on your understanding of your boss’s perspective and expectations (your boss is Maya Harris).

In order to aid your independent thought and communication competency development, teams’ average score totals (the total that will be shown on the score board, not your individual grades) will be issued a 5 point deduction for every instance where more than one question is asked per team, more than one team member asks a question, or a question is asked that is answered/addressed/linked in the assignment description/assignment document, or that can be answered fairly easily via internet research or group discussion. Therefore, it would be wise to discuss your questions and thoughts with your team members first, to only ask a question that is deemed very important by the entire team and unanswerable via internet research or discussion, and to specifically assign one person to ask the question on behalf of the entire team.

          • To be clear: This assignment is an INDIVIDUAL assignment, and is NOT collaborative; however, the question penalty will encourage independent thinking as well as help you simultaneously develop self- and team-reliance.
          • The penalty is also based on your target audience’s preferences and characteristics; asking your boss a bunch of questions that you could probably think through and work out yourself, or with the aid of some group discussion or a quick internet search would reflect poorly on you and on your team.
          • The penalty will affect your team’s overall standings, but will not impact your individual grade.
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