When I think about getting a client’s voice right, I like to imagine being in an ice cream store (and it’s not because of my perpetual sweet tooth). Similar to how an ice cream parlor has many flavors to choose from, we, as PR professionals, must be able to assess all the “flavors” – or strategies, in our case – available to us to know what will work best for a particular client’s voice.
1. Be Industry Appropriate
Just like some people go for mint choc chip and others prefer plain vanilla, client tastes vary depending on their workplace and industry. A successful PR strategy takes these nuances into account and tailors its approach accordingly. For instance, while some clients are firmly planted in a highly regulated world with compliance departments checking each written word going out externally, others have more creative liberties and an appetite for pushing the envelope with their messaging. As a result, these two different client types require two different strategies. The former is better suited for tactics that allow for careful consideration and word control – such as bylines – where the messaging can be specifically crafted to directly, word-for-word, represent what the client wishes to say. A client in the latter category, on the other hand, may be less risk-averse and open to a different suite of tactics, like allowing a spokesperson with a bold take on a hot topic to share her or his perspective in a live media interview.
2. Show Personality
This is where we bring more flavor into how we communicate about a client – let’s turn those ice cream scoops into a decorated sundae! While keeping within a context that makes sense for a client’s industry and workplace, it’s important to show some personality to demonstrate a client’s and its spokespeople’s authenticity. Remember, even within the same company, every spokesperson has a different style – the more you’re able to tap into their individual tones, the more likely your work is to resonate with them. To develop an antenna for an individual’s voice, pay close attention not just to what they say but also to how they deliver their message. Picking up on unique language and delivery tendencies helps ensure PR efforts remain true to the client’s voice – like a good sundae, the strength of a client’s media personality is in the combination of its many distinct “flavors.
3. Align with Business Objectives
Without a bowl, it doesn’t matter how delicious your ice cream sundae is, it’s still just a sticky mess. Now that we’ve selected the right flavors and combined them into a uniquely appealing combination, we need to package and present it in a way that makes strategic sense and maintains its integrity. A client’s voice and the specific messages it conveys to its audiences should be driven by business or organizational objectives – which might mean prioritizing some toppings…err, messages over others to ensure the communications approach is focused and strategic.
Knowing how to tap into your client’s voice and project the right tone for them is a key ingredient in carrying out effective PR strategies – like being in an ice cream parlor with all the pressure of picking the right flavor, this means making difficult decisions about what to include, what to leave out, and how to present the end result. By taking into consideration your client’s industry, individual personalities, and the overall business objectives, you’ll be confident knowing you’re building a creation your client and their audiences are sure to love.