Introspections of a c21 Intern Part 3: Develop Your Voice

This is a communications blog by me, Emma, c21’s 2022 former intern, now an account manager. These entries combine marcom lessons with my daily tasks as I started recording in the early days of my internship. I hope these thoughts and lessons may help those who are starting out in the whirlwind industry of PR and marketing. (Read part 1 here. Read part 2 here.)

Marcom Lesson 3: Developing Your Voice While Balancing Culture

Marcom lesson 3 - Develop your voice

It may be obvious from this blog series that I’m a casual person. Being formal can be difficult and I was never able to hit that sweet spot of fun and formalities in school and, more recently, the working world. I tried to treat my academic presentations like a conversation with a friend. And why not? Not only did I hate public speaking, but half of the things I presented about were topics I had little interest in. This detached approach does not work outside of school. Now, I have to be professional enough for people to trust me to do the work, but still be unique enough for them to remember me.

Clearly, this writing itself is… not quite professional in tone. But it’s also not like the quirky newsletter you somehow subscribed to (or someone subscribed you to) that teeters back and forth between trendy jokes and informative topics. I have a way to go before I get there - or if I ever get there, honestly. But that’s a negative outlook, and we’re not here for that.

So, when thinking about tone and voice, I will focus on how every client is different and how every social platform is different. There are clients that have a casual brand voice, perhaps geared towards Gen Z or that is considered ‘hip’. And it is very easy to be informal in an Instagram caption. The pictures always must look like they were taken by Nigel Barker or something. And you can’t copy and paste the same thing for LinkedIn. LinkedIn is all about formalities. Being professional.

I truly want to be able to write formally without being boring. From the experience of some of my past internships, I can write excitedly about things I have no interest in (i.e., vertical farming - I loved the AI but I am not a science girl). But it still runs the risk of either being boring or cheesy, and I would rather not fall into either of those categories.

Luckily, I do have a lot of options to get to a better place, writing-wise. c21 has a variety of clients with different brands and styles— the whole gambit. Some are stricter than others on the type of voice they want to convey. My social guideposts definitely needed edits the first time around, and probably many more times after that. But that’s how you learn, right?

Being able to experiment with different styles and clients is helpful when you’re starting out. It keeps things moving and exciting. I like the pace of switching between them. I don’t think I could focus only on one for too long before I would need to do something else. I can focus when I need to, but everyone needs a break. Nonprofit, real estate and technology clients have a different angle to push. I can’t word things the same way for one that I do for another, especially if it’s something serious or specific. That continues to vary around all platforms.

Meanwhile, email marketing pieces can have a different approach because people are already familiar with the organization. You can use abbreviations or industry slang and it’s fine. Social media, on the other hand, is different because it has the potential to be exposed to people unfamiliar with a particular brand. Content can be reposted, retweeted, etc., so it still must distinctly be the brand while also hoping to attract a broader audience. This makes it sound like one wrong move and it’s ruined, which is not the case at all, but it does make you think more critically about your approach.

It is also nice that I can use c21’s own social media channels to experiment. Total free-range writing. Naturally, because I'm at the crossroads of millennial and Gen Z, that means I immediately started to think about how I could incorporate memes to be ‘trendy’ and ‘quirky’. Memes are the moment. But that is for another time.



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