Think about what that means for a moment.
As a child we learn to use it, as an adolescent to develop it, and as an adult to define us, to detract, attract, oppose, support, cajole, admonish, praise, thank, and more. We learn early on that each voice is unique. I love watching my daughter react to her tiny, happy voice in toddler videos. And I love helping a client find their voice.
Voice is more than sounds emanating from a box in the human throat. Voice reflects the tone and tenor of a company, a campaign – whether political, cause-related, or commercial. And yet, even when you are in command of your own voice, it’s easy to trip up when asked to give voice to the mission of your company. Voice can be elusive.
Finding the right voice and articulating a message is a significant task at any company. I liked Anne Handley’s take on it, which she published in Entrepreneur last year:
“Your tone of voice isn’t about what you say but how you say it—and it’s about the impression your brand leaves on customers. Developed correctly, your tone of voice can be the secret sauce in your content recipe.”
Why care about voice? Voice is often the first thing that we at Harris Media Services attempt to capture and define. This is an important function of any B2B marketing firm. No sooner is the contract signed, then we start working on identifying the company voice. As we often do, we put our journalist hats on and cover three to four topics over a series of calls. We ask questions, listen intently, and ferret out the strengths. We pay great attention to inflection, intent, and spirit. Once mapped out on paper, it provides the client with the insight and context of their voice and becomes our foundation as we bring voice to their company, cause, mission, or campaign.
Voice isn’t always public – a client recently was apprehensive to voice concern over a bureaucratic snafu with a government agency. We helped the client find their voice and communicate the concern to the right official.
We all hesitate. We anticipate an adverse reaction and it mutes our voice. I clearly remember not answering questions in grammar school, not because I didn’t know the answer, but because I was afraid to raise my hand and use my voice. Ironically, I became a journalist, and even today rely on my voice to ask questions, find answers, and bring voice to others; it is a truly rewarding part of my career. When I think of how I use my voice today, I realize I am an advocate, guide, coach, and mentor.
If you need some help identifying your company’s voice and exercising it, please drop us a line. We love helping clients be heard. Shared wins are the best kind.
Shared Wins Come in All Shapes and Sizes
Karen Craven is an Associate at Harris Media Services. Based in Chicago, she brings insights honed from her expertise as a marketing director for several high profile organizations.