5 Strategies for Writing in Another Person or Brand’s Voice
As a recent liberal arts graduate, the opportunity to continue writing was one of the main reasons I was drawn to public relations. I’ve enjoyed drafting bylines, social media posts and long-form articles for a variety of clients, from accounting executives to medical experts.
Learning how to transition from academic to PR writing is an important lesson for those new to the industry. Though having a strong sense of grammar and flow is necessary for both college papers and corporate communications, it can take time to adjust to new formats and audiences.
If you’re also shifting from working in an academic to a corporate setting, here are five strategies for strengthening your content in a professional context.
- Find Your Client’s Voice
When I began writing my first long-form article for a client’s LinkedIn, it was difficult to put aside my own voice and write from an executive’s perspective. Many spokespeople in leadership positions rely on a concise and authoritative tone to convey important information, which is different from my personal style.
To help embody another brand or person’s voice, read through some of their previous pieces to get an idea of how they communicated their values and viewpoints in the past. Taking a close look at their existing long-form articles, bylines or social media content can help you get a grasp of their written voice.
When possible, a content capture call—in which you ask a spokesperson to share their insights into the topic you’ll be writing about on their behalf— or notes from previous relevant conversations are a great way to learn the appropriate perspective and phrasing. It can even be helpful to create a shared document to keep track of a client’s favorite and most memorable frameworks and phrases that can be used as a reference point when developing new content.
- Develop A Hook or Angle
Having a good hook at the beginning of an article or social post can grab a reader’s attention and show them why the topic you’re writing about matters. Start with a powerful statistic, anecdote or key theme to help orient your audience to the topic at hand without diving straight into the details. If you can reference elements of your hook throughout the piece or call back to it at the conclusion, readers will remain engaged and appreciate the continuity.
- Break It Down
In academic writing, your audience—usually a professor or group of peers—is expected to read the entire piece in order to provide an accurate evaluation. Academic writing can be expansive, so readers know that the content requires their full attention for a significant period of time.
For corporate communications, it’s up to you to grab and keep a reader’s attention within the first few sentences or even words. When writing longer pieces, breaking the content down into subsections or “listicles” makes it easier for people to stay engaged. Dividing and organizing your content with paragraph breaks and bolded subheadings can also help ensure that your key points stick with readers.
- Include Relevant Data
Just like academic papers, client communications need to be thoroughly researched. Including data that aligns with your message will strengthen your client’s points and give them credibility, which is particularly important if they’re a smaller organization looking to make a name for themselves.
For my college essays, I typically used quotes from primary sources and academic journals to flesh out my arguments. Meanwhile, corporate communications relies on trusted and credible public sources—including survey data and reports—to back up claims. The best part of using widely available sources is the ability to cite them with a hyperlink rather than including a formal bibliography. Linking to your source material also increases your credibility, as interested readers can easily verify the information.
- Outlining is Key
One of the best pieces of advice a colleague gave me is that outlines are a staple of good professional writing. They help you organize your thoughts and make sure that you are actually addressing or answering your key points, rather than just writing whatever comes to mind. Having an outline helps ensure that you have enough data to back up your main arguments—each idea should have a supporting bullet point(s) with evidence. Beginning with an outline is also great way as a more junior employee to run initial ideas past supervisors or clients.
By Hailey Oppenlander