Editorial tone: It’s not about ‘you’

With very few exceptions, Ozone Creative advocates writing copy in the third rather than the first person. This is why…

Writing in the third person creates a more objective, information-based tone – asking people to draw their own conclusions, it’s more inclusive and it’s a familiar, trusted writing style – as used by the media.

Writing ‘we can help you’ relies on several assumptions about the reader. Maybe they are not the author’s target market and can’t directly benefit from the service, but their husband, wife, colleage, associate may. Indirect clients may continue to read the copy to be informed and to pass on the knowledge they have gained to someone who may benefit. If the editorial were addressed to ‘you’ and the reader was not a target customer, they are likely to stop reading – appreciating that it was not written with them in mind.

Clients sometimes wrongly believe the ‘you’ approach is more personal and persuasive. Hard sales advertising copy takes the “WE CAN HELP YOU!”* approach. It is usually in capitals with an exclamation mark, feigning excitement, rarely realised by the reader. People are wise to this and wary of it; not wishing to be talked into a service/product they don’t want. People today do not want to be sold to; they want to be informed.

Trusted ‘objective’ editorial in newspapers and magazines takes the third person approach, the first person is only written by columnists. The second person (‘YOU’) is only found in advertising.

Ozone Creative can help with rewriting client communications – both online and offline. Contact us for more information or to set up a meeting.