With the holiday season upon us we are all exchanging communications and content within our professional settings, as well as with friends and neighbors. Sifting through the cards, emails and tweets, I am reminded how important the tone of our messages can be. The Facebook message from a friend or the corporate email blast can be an opportunity to build a relationship even further or pile frustration on to the all ready hectic season. So sit back with your favorite seasonal beverage and lets hash out this edition of “Content Throwdown: Personal Voice vs. Professional Voice!”

For starters here are two recent exchanges that I have received from companies that I do business with on a regular basis. The names have been changed to protect the guilty parties involved and I may have tweaked some of the content for artistic and humorous purposes.

Example #1
Dear Sir and/or Madam,

We here at Global Content Corporation are pleased to announce our customer appreciation program. We value our customers and it is our goal to strive for synergy in meeting their needs. With the launch of this exciting new program we will be sending you emails, similar in nature to this one, expressing our thanks to you. It is our sincere desire that you and your family have a joyous holiday season.

With warm wishes,
Global Content Corp

Example #2
Hey Jose,

Just wanted to say Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Feliz Navidad! Hope all is well with you and your family. You rock as a customer!

Talk to you soon,
Bob (not his real name) Service Rep for Global Content Corp

Which one of these makes you feel like a valued individual? If you chose Example #2, you are correct! While example #1 made me feel rather annoyed and definitely not appreciated, the second communication was personal, genuine, and will be remembered. But what about professional communication guidelines and the PR Department? There are systems and processes in place to handle connecting with customers. Aren’t there times when a professional voice is appropriate?

Of course there are times when a professional voice is not only appropriate but necessary. Earnings calls, hiring and firing, and lawsuits are just a few examples for steering clear of the friendly chit chat but unfortunately most of this tone has become commonplace for all communication channels. The boiler plates for our lawyer approved content have infiltrated our emails, videos, holiday cards, and marketing pieces. The fear of offending customers has drained the soul out of our conversations. The Professional Voice has drowned out the Personal Voice in the marketplace.

How do we declare a winner in this edition of Content Throwdown? Professional Voice is a standby and good for certain types of information while Personal Voice is easy to use and relates well with others. After a quick chat with the judges I am proud to declare the Personal Voice this installment’s winner! If we are being honest, though, Professional Voice has held the winning title for years and I think it is time for a change.

So please remember to use your personal voice when communicating both internally and externally. Your customers and fellow employees will thank you. And on that note I want to wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season. My personal holiday tip is to make sure to buy whole nutmeg and grate it over your eggnog, it’s miles better than the powdered stuff.

Have a spicy 2012!