Adjusting for tone

Tone is how our voice adjusts for context.

When tone needs to change

To build trust with our audiences, we need to consider how our audience feels at each interaction with our brand, and adjust how we communicate accordingly. 

For instance, imagine our platform is down and users are coming to our Twitter channel to learn why. Chances are they’re frustrated and would respond better to a direct apology and estimated recovery time than a tongue-in-cheek note addressing the outage. 

Adjusting tone for empathy

Each department at PressReader empathizes with different audiences for different reasons.

    • Our sales team needs to consider what type of stakeholders they’re about to face heading into an intense pitch or RFP process.
    • Our HR team needs to consider how talent is feeling on their job search when they encounter a PressReader job posting.
    • Our leadership team needs to consider what matters most to the rest of the company when they share c-suite updates.
    • Our product team needs to consider what a user will be thinking as they explore our app. 
    • Our success and support teams need to consider how partners will respond to the onboarding and authentication flows. 
    • Our marketing team needs to anticipate exactly what hesitations prospective customers might have as they progress through a marketing funnel. 

And the list goes on. The good news is that, despite there being so many different times we need to empathize with our audiences, there is a lot of overlap in how our audiences feel along the way. In fact, we can narrow down how our audiences feel across every touchpoint to seven main emotions.

Here’s how we adjust our voice accordingly:

Emotion Curious Apprehensive Excited Frustrated Judgemental

Example scenario

B2B partners reading PressReader content they found organically; internal team receiving leadership team updates

Agents in partner verticals listening to PressReader pitch; qualified leads progressing through the sales cycle

Publishers undergoing onboarding/content integration; potential PressReader candidates finding open job postings

Publishers and end customers details with app updates or outages; internal team receiving bad news during a town hall or internal meeting

Procurement teams reviewing RFP submission (particularly in Aviation vertical); content providers hearing about PressReader’s offering for the first time; technical teams implementing Branded Editions

What they need Transparency, trust Transparency, trust Efficiency, excitement Empathy, transparency Detail, product savvy

How to do it

Our clear, creative, calm, and confident voice will naturally build upon the audience’s interest and earn their trust.

This sentiment requires a very subtle shift in our voice.

  • Tone up our confidence, placing extra emphasis on facts and statistics.

Consider replacing editorialized titles and subheads with statistics and past wins for added impact.

  • Tone down our calm approach to show our own excitement.

  • Tone up our clarity to make sure nothing gets missed or overlooked as our audiences move quickly.

Consider showing our excitement through language (“We could hardly wait to tell you…”) and punctuation — yes, the odd exclamation mark can help!

  • Tone down our creativity and confidence, getting to the point faster and more directly to acknowledge people’s frustrations.

Consider replacing editorialized titles and subheads with clear, self-explanatory messaging.
Consider acknowledging our part in their frustration.

  • Tone down our clear and creative approach to provide rigorous procurement details with every piece of information they could possibly want.

  • Tone up our confidence, sharing facts to avoid sounding desperate or scattered.

  • Tone up technical terms that prove to CIOs we speak the same language — but don’t sacrifice simple sentence structure.

Consider using bullet points to explain PressReader benefits in more detail and keeping creative language to a minimum.

Adjusting tone for co-branded partnerships

Because we have one voice that adjusts to read the room, we communicate in co-branded materials the same way we do in our own collateral. This means that when a partner shares assets for us to post on our channels, we recreate them to make sure they look and sound like PressReader.

The only difference is that we need to make sure we’re leaving space for our partners to show their personality and use their own voice, too. As a result we may:

    • Tone down our creativity and keep things to the point, including in titles and subheads where we usually have a bit more fun
    • Tone up our confidence, going so far as to show our pride in our great partnerships
    • Tone down our typical calm demeanor and get excited about partner announcements and opportunities

Being clear doesn’t change. We don’t use longer, more complicated language to try to impress our partners’ audiences or over-explain ourselves to prove our value.