What’s your voice in the press?

July 12, 2021

Each year, people and organizations are presented with opportunities to get in the press. Not all of them are good ones; in those circumstances, silence is your best option. There are times, however, when it’s essential for you to be heard. But what is the best voice for you to use to present your story effectively, increase brand credibility, and bring more people into your sales funnel?

Many things must be taken into account when finding your voice and putting it in the press. Below, we’ll explore several types of voices featured in our founder’s recent Forbes.com article about a vertical merger which is being opposed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The silent/authoritative giant voice

This voice is represented by the FTC. They are the Goliath in the room – a powerful government agency which initiated the legal battle through lawsuits and statements against the merger…but would not comment for the story because one lawsuit is still ongoing. This voice’s strength is that because the FTC is a powerful government agency, its perspective came first and was authoritative.

This voice’s weakness is that while the FTC limited its public statements, the companies seeking to merge have issued many statements. This shaped subsequent media coverage, and is why businesses should rarely use this voice. Limiting your response to “no comment” allows your opponents to control the narrative.

This “voice” is best used when

  • The law constrains you – for example, when a judge imposes a gag rule.
  • When company policy prevents you from speaking out, such as when dealing with a disgruntled employee or customer who has gone public.
  • Upon sound advice from legal counsel or your communications advisor.

The narrative supporter voice

Newsweek columnist Peter Roff and economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin represented this voice. This is the independent observer who supports the common/prevailing perspective. This isn’t a fearful, lapdog voice which dislikes contention or lacks the courage of convictions; this voice tailors prevailing viewpoints to a specific perspective.

In the Forbes article, Roff and Holtz-Eakin represent a widely-held perspective that the merger should go through. This voice is often very successful in shaping narrative because it is easily tailored. Here are a few examples from the coronavirus pandemic:

  • Many companies in the restaurant, grocery, and delivery industries highlighted safety policies which protected employees and customers. They supported the prevailing narrative about the pandemic while regularly communicating industry and company-specific messages.
  • The technology industry likewise supported the prevailing COVID-19 narrative, but its tailored message focused on providing new and expanded services. Zoom, Netflix, and ServiceNow were just three companies which reached hundreds of millions of people who were suddenly stuck at home but needed access to work, school, family, a break from life, and medical advice. Each company had a tailored message but the same supporting voice.
  • Local or industry-focused firms provided tailored industry-specific messages that supported the prevailing COVID-19 perspective. Specialized law firms offered timely advice about the effects of national, state, county, and municipal COVID-19 regulations. Accountants likewise kept clients up-to-date on constantly-changing federal loan programs and tax payment dates.

The loyal opposition/counter-narrative voice

A spokesman for the Open Markets Institute represented this voice against the merger. This is a voice that stands out by going against the common or prevailing viewpoint, though it doesn’t have to be political or create controversy. Financial advisors can support keeping money in stocks when the market is sinking, business coaches can push back against trends they see as harmful, and accountants can offer counter-narrative predictions about navigating tax policies.

Just like the narrative supporter voice, the counter-narrative voice is popular and can be tailored to specific industries or local markets. For example, national housing and car prices are going up; but the banker, realtor, or auto dealership owner who sees the local market is not following that trend may gain credibility and customers by pointing this out.

The unbiased professional

Attorney and Executive Law partners, PLLC senior partner Milt Johns represented this voice in the article. This is the “straight man” – or woman – who stands out next to the more opinionated voices in the press. Johns didn’t offer an opinion on the merger; he gave his professional assessment about a nuanced point which helped readers understand the full picture.

The unbiased professional voice is often the most neutral, as it was in the Forbes article. It removes brand danger – there is risk anytime you publicly take a position or offer a prediction in the press. Being the nuanced fact expert can make you look like the most mature professional among controversial voices.

The downside is that you won’t be the most exciting voice in the press. But you might be the most attractive to your target markets.

What voice do you want in the press?

There are many advantages to getting in the press. However, if done wrong it can be a waste of resources or even cause significant damage to your brand.

Make sure that your press has the right “voice” for your target markets, goals, and media opportunities. Contact us today for a custom media & message training, a media strategy to achieve your goals, and the opportunity to make your message heard the right way.

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