I would say about 90% of my job involves writing. Writing for press releases and pitches, to blogs and social media posts, and even copy for newsletters and websites. But every piece I write requires a different voice and tone, as well as consideration about the client’s audience and platform. As you move from one written piece to the next, it’s important to adjust accordingly.
Here are some things to ask yourself:
Who is the Client?
Different clients have different tones; and you need to make sure your writing is on-brand. For example, a technology organization may use a straight-forward, serious tone to come across as a thought-leader, while a tourism destination may have a fun, inviting tone to attract visitors.
Before you begin writing, take a moment to think about how the client would say it, and what words they would likely use. Read through the notes you took during a recent phone call or in-person meeting with the client; get inspired by how they explained the information and review any key phrases they used.
As you write, try to embody your client’s tone and voice. Read through it – out loud is usually best – and picture the words coming from that particular brand. It’s always best to have your client review to make sure you captured their voice correctly, but the more you write for them, the easier it’ll be to sound like them.
Who is the Audience?
In order to be an effective writer, you must also consider who you are talking to.
Take into account what the audience already knows and how they speak. For example, when addressing members of a technology organization, feel free to use industry jargon. If you’re speaking to a more general audience, steer clear from terms or acronyms that they probably don’t know.
Consider what the audience thinks and what questions they might have. For many, it’s “What’s in it for me?” On behalf of our tourism clients, I reach out to many travel writers. They receive a bunch of pitches and emails every day so they’re looking for the interesting, attention-grabbing information upfront. I must make a destination stand out and seem interesting enough to cover within a few, short sentences. That means my writing must be exciting, informative, welcoming, and convincing.
It may be helpful to envision a specific person that you know within that audience, and pretend you are writing directly to them.
What is the Platform?
Lastly, you should consider what platform you are writing for. This will affect your tone, word choice, and even sentence structure. Drafting a press release is completely different than crafting a social media post. One is more formal and newsy, while the other is relaxed and conveys the message in short-form. For more on writing for digital, check out Camille’s blog here.
We’ve recently started writing blog posts for a seasonal character, Winter. The tone is tongue-in-check which allows us to loosen up a little, being creative and conversational. For this client, I am encouraged to use humor, contractions, and simpler sentences in blog posts. But switching from writing for Winter to writing for one of our more straight-forward clients, can take effort.
When it’s time to move on to the next client or writing project, I suggest you take a moment to regroup and go through the 3 questions again. Then write on.
What tricks do you have for capturing a certain tone?