Wednesday, August 17, 2011

He said, you always….

At NASA, a public relations officer, who was writing an official press release for my project, asked me “Who, what, when, where and why?”. Trite, I know, but it was concise.
The answers to those questions give the reader information. As a writer you can also decide which voice you will use to answer these questions. A reporter or PR person might use quotes from various sources. (I used to get my civil servant to give me a quote on the NASA perspective and a participant quote to show the user’s perspective.)
I have come to realize that the reader will have an emotional response to the voice of an article and while voice has a subtle impact on communication. Voice is worth considering.
I was recently doing a comparative analysis of Human Resource sites and I noticed that different voices were used. The older style pages used 1st person plural. “We offer.., we provide…, we want…” are some examples of sentence beginnings. The employer is a bit patronizing here, even if they are paying the bills. This approach does not get directly to the directions for the employee to access and participate in the HR programs so that information has to be added.
The more current sites were using 2nd person. “You can access this…., you must choose…,” and even declarative statements like “Click on…., Decide….”
This style is direct, empowering, and time saving for the employee. It doesn’t really ask the employee to acknowledge the benevolence of the employer, but in this economy, employee indebtedness goes without saying.
Do you consider the emotion response to voice when you write? Tell me about what you’re doing?

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