Ever overheard a conversation and immediately recognized a friend’s voice? Chances are you picked up on pitch, tone and phrasing – the style of speaking.
Everyone has a distinctive voice. Yours reflects how you relate to others, whether you’re formal or casual, intense or relaxed. The way you express yourself affects how others perceive and remember you.
The same is true for hospitals and healthcare organizations. Whether deliberate or not, hospitals have a unique voice and tone that creates a lasting impression of the organization.
Who and How
Voice is who’s doing the talking. Tone is how you talk to your audience. Think about the role your hospital assumes on the Web. Are you a clinical authority that promotes your expertise?
Or are you a trusted partner that focuses on the whole patient?
Find Your Voice
Your voice and tone are already out there – on your website, social media, and print materials. If you haven’t documented a specific style for your communications, now’s the time. Define the persona that best matches your organization’s brand identity. Look across what you’ve already created to find examples that hit the right note. Or, pull excerpts from other healthcare sites that model the tone you want to take.
Choose your point of view for your communications. You can write in the first person using “we” and “our,” in the second person focusing on “you” and “your,” or in the third person talking about “the heart center” or “patients.” Most styles combine points of view, but you want to make an intentional choice about which you’ll use. First person is more me-focused (we’re important); second person is more you-focused (you’re important).
And while you’re at it, think about whether you’ll use contractions (as I’ve done twice – make that three times – in this sentence). Saying, “you’re our first priority” sounds more conversational than “you are our first priority.
Consider your audience. You may want to take a more formal approach with content for clinicians and a less formal one for consumers. Or a light tone with social media and a more serious one on your website. Above all, be yourself. A casual tone of voice isn’t right for every hospital. You need to be true to your brand.
To create a consistent approach across your communication channels, develop a brand style guide that captures your voice and tone. Include the examples you identified as benchmarks to emulate. Document your writing style, including point of view, level of formality and editorial standards, such as AP Style or Chicago Manual of Style. Add any distinctive editorial treatments, for example, whether you use hyphens or periods in formatting phone numbers.
Then, communicate your brand style guide to anyone who contributes content. Hold a training session. Distribute brand guidelines to contributors. Build the guidelines into your content management system for ease of access.
If you’d like help defining your voice and tone, creating a brand style guide or writing content that communicates your identity, contact us. Our content team would love to help you strike the perfect pitch.