What Is a Voice Profile? Items to Pay Attention to

Use the Voice Profile to create articles in a consistent style that reflects the company’s goals and brand.

A Tempesta Media Voice Profile™ is a content style guide for our customers. It helps the writing team (you) convey the same tone, voice, and style across all of the articles you produce. This creates consistency in the content that allows customers to publish the articles under a cohesive brand.

Voice Profiles are attached to each assignment you receive. Within it, you will find details on the customer’s:

  • Company information.
  • Target audience.
  • Content goals and preferences.
  • Writing style.

It’s crucial to carefully and completely review the Voice Profile for each assignment you receive. Even for customers who you grow familiar with, they can update or change their preferences at any time, and you need to know what those changes are.

Despite the importance of looking through the entire Voice Profile though, there are certain areas that often contain the details most relevant to you and your writing goals. Let’s take a look at what those areas are.

Important notes

This section appears at the very top of the Voice Profile. It’s often where the customer’s additional requirements, recent changes, or important clarifications go as their partnership with Tempesta Media grows and they identify more content preferences. 

Here’s an example from Tempesta Media’s own Voice Profile:

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Competition

Under the header “Website URLs of top three competitors,” customers often indicate competing companies to stay away from. 

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This means you should not reference or include any links to these companies’ websites or their affiliated pages. You should even avoid indirect competitor references like citing a study or report commissioned by a competitor. 

Why is this important? We don’t want to lead readers away from the customer. By including links or referencing competition, we are promoting other businesses and potentially losing a prospect that the customer could have converted had we not directed them to the competition.

A final note here: This list is not exhaustive. It merely contains examples of some of the customer’s top competitors. So, while it is important to avoid those few listed, you also must avoid any other competition. Check each resource you refer to or link to.

Target audience

The Voice Profile contains an overarching subhead titled “Audience.” As mentioned above, reviewing each of the subsections is critical, but the first paragraph under “Audience” often contains the most important information.

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Here you will learn details about the target audience that will help you approach topics from the right angle and write content that provides the most value. For example, Tempesta Media often targets executives and marketing experts. These readers are experienced professionals looking for advanced topics and actionable suggestions to drive change and success at their company. 

They aren’t looking for entry-level definitions or generalized statements. Those details would be more fitting for an audience of marketing newcomers or those not in the marketing industry at all, like IT or HR. 

Understanding your target audience, their knowledge and experience, and their goals will allow you to create articles that are helpful to readers. Looking at the long-term effects, if readers find value in the customer’s article, they will be more likely to trust the customer as an expert and come back to their website for more advice and solutions.

Paragraph style preference

While paragraph length may not seem like a huge deal, it influences readability, flow, and reader engagement. Under this header in the Voice Profile, you will find one of three categories:

  • Single sentences. 
  • Short and snappy (2-3 sentences).
  • Mid-length (4-5 sentences).

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Of course, not every paragraph in your article has to fall exactly in this range, but try to achieve an average that meets the requirement indicated. For all customers though, try not to exceed five sentences per paragraph. That creates a block of text that can be difficult to read and organize, which may discourage people from actually reading it.

Sales pitch

The sales pitch is one of the more important items to be aware of in the Voice Profile. The requirements indicated here will help you determine how much of the word count you should dedicate to talking about the customer’s products or services. 

Sales pitch preferences range from no company references to mild calls to action to periodic callouts and links throughout the content. 

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In any article with sales though, it is crucial to balance sales with the topic. You don’t want the pitch to overpower the topic of the article. Instead, you want it to complement and support the topic, reminding the audience that the customer has solutions to help with the points they are reading about.

Additional preferences 

The subheader “Additional preferences to include within the content” acts as a catch-all for smaller, yet nonetheless important, items to take note of while creating your content. Most often, this section indicates the following:

  • Hook. An attention-grabbing sentence at the beginning of the article to pull readers in.
  • Lede. A few summarizing sentences in the introduction that hint at what the full article will talk about.
  • Footnotes or linked sources. How the customer wants sources to be cited.
    • Footnotes: Include a superscript number (1) where the borrowed information is in the article text. This number usually goes at the end of the sentence. Then include a reference list at the bottom of the article that contains a corresponding number (1.) and the URL of the page you got the information from.
    • Links. Insert the URL of the source directly in the text as a hyperlink. Hyperlink the phrase that best represents the data you borrowed.

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These are just a few of the items you may see in this list. Be sure to note any other items that appear.

Writing perspective

Writing perspective, sometimes called point of view, is important to achieve the customer’s desired tone and professional approach. 

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Tempesta Media customers can pick a combination of 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-person perspectives:

  • 1st person. When referring to the customer, use pronouns like “we” and “us.” You are speaking as the company.
  • 2nd person. When talking to the audience, use pronouns like “you.” The customer wants to speak directly to their readers, which achieves a level of informality and approachability.
  • 3rd person. There is a caveat here:
    • In the event that the customer lists both 2nd and 3rd person, 3rd person refers to how you address the company. Always use the company name, the pronoun “they,” or the phrase “the team.” You can keep referring to the audience in 2nd person, or “you.”
    • In the event that the customer lists just 3rd person, address the company as its name, “they,” or “the team.” Additionally, address the readers as who they are (“marketers,” “IT analysts,” “CEOs,” etc.). 

Tone and word clouds

Tone goes hand-in-hand with writing perspective in that they both affect word choice and how the customer wants to be perceived by their audience. Under the “Tone” section, customers may indicate that they want you to write with language that conveys one of the following tones:

  • Conversational.
  • Informal.
  • Semi-formal.
  • Formal/business professional.

The chosen tone often corresponds with the target audience mentioned earlier. For example, a conversational tone is usually reserved for the average consumer while a formal tone is meant for C-suite executives. 

When trying to achieve the right tone, pay attention to word choice (complicated words and jargon). The more informal the tone, the less jargon and easier words you want to use. 

The word clouds section right below will also help you pinpoint the right tone. These adjectives are how the customer best describes themselves, and they want those characteristics to be present in the content. 

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Deviations from AP Style

AP Style is the standard writing style for businesses. As the header suggests, here is where the customer will identify any company preferences that conflict with standard AP Style formatting or language. The most common deviations involve subheading capitalization and comma usage. 

Quick tip: AP Style uses sentence case capitalization for subheadings and title case for the title of the article. AP Style does not use the Oxford (or serial) comma in simple lists.

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Here is also a good place to note that Voice Profile entries can sometimes conflict. Remember the “Important notes” section at the top? In that picture, Tempesta Media indicates that we do use the Oxford comma. However, down in the Voice Profile under this header, we indicate that we don’t have any AP deviations (meaning that we don’t use the Oxford comma).

This is why reading the full Voice Profile is crucial. The “Important notes” are where the most up-to-date preferences are located, so always favor those instructions over any contradictory information further down.

If you encounter any sort of conflict or contradiction, please message WriterSupport@tempestamedia.com. We will be happy to clarify the confusion, and we appreciate you bringing the problem to our attention.

Additional details

Here is another catch-all area for any remaining preferences the customer may think of. Information in this section can range from general rules to follow (like the example below) to specific style preferences, liking avoiding certain words.

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In the end, just remember…

All of the sections within a customer’s Voice Profile are relevant to creating their content. You must review the guide entirely, but hyperfocus on the sections listed above. Those details are just the most common places where customers tend to put information, but you will still need to read the full Voice Profile for each assignment. Customers are all unique and will update their Voice Profile as they see fit.

By taking the time to review the Voice Profile, you will gain a more complete understanding of the customer and their goals. Ultimately, this will allow you to create better content that meets the customer’s needs, which means more consistent work for you.

If you have any questions or concerns about Voice Profile requirements or how to interpret your customer’s profile, reach out to us!

Email WriterSupport@tempestamedia.com, and we will be glad to help.