It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it (and why Boris got it so wrong)

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it (and why Boris got it so wrong)

Words matter. They matter a lot. In fact, the words you choose (or don’t choose) have the power to shape not just your message – but how people receive that message, too. 

Which brings us to 7pm on Sunday, May 10, 2020. It was the speech we’d all been waiting for – Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s eagerly anticipated COVID-19 lockdown exit plan.


Like most of us who watched his long and rambling train-wreck-of-a-speech, I still can’t tell you what the PM’s plan is. But I can tell you this: he failed. 


He failed to communicate, he failed to engage, he failed to connect, and he failed to gain trust. 




Because, questionable decisions and data aside, how the British PM spoke to the Nation broke every single rule of effective communication. They are: simplicity, brevity, consistency, context, credibility, novelty, and aspiration.  


Though they may not be as absolute as, say, a country’s laws, these rules are just as important if you want your message to reap the desired results – whether it’s building trust, encouraging a specific action, or converting a sale. 


Equally relevant in blogs, boardrooms and political speeches, these rules help audiences to understand and interpret messages as they’re intended. They can also help you avoid causing offence, confusion, and, perhaps most importantly, damage to your brand. 


Here are the seven rules of communication – and why they work. 


1. Simplicity

Whether you’re writing a speech, blog post or company literature – keep it simple. It may be tempting to use long, complex words to prove how much you know about your subject area; but unless you’re aiming content at a group of like-minded peers – don’t. Remember that not everyone reading (or listening to) your work will have a university degree. So use the simplest words to get your point across. And while you’re at it, avoid jargon, too. 


2. Brevity

No matter what you’re communicating – keep it brief. Get straight to the point and cut the waffle. Avoid using long paragraphs when a sentence will do. Swap sentences for short, catchy phrases if you can. And if you can sum it up in just one word, then even better.


3. Consistency 

If you want people to remember you – be consistent. Whether it’s your tone of voice, your brand message or your views on a particular topic, repetition builds the trust you need to engage, connect and convert your audience. 


4. Context 

As Gary Vaynerchuk puts it: “content is king, but context is God.” The “why” behind your message, context helps people understand the value, impact and relevance of your written or spoken content. It also allows you to minimise confusion and misinterpretation, too. 


5. Credibility 

People need to believe you to buy into you. Whether you want to sell more products, become an industry leader or gain support for a charitable cause, you need to first build trust. It was Abraham Lincoln who said: “you can’t fool all the people all the time”. And he was right. So be honest, be useful, deliver what you promise, and use solid, reliable stats if you can. 


6. Novelty

Audiences are served a constant stream of content. So if you want to grab – and keep – their attention, you need to offer something new. This could be a new take on an old idea, an innovative new product or a surprise fact. Though people love familiarity (see rule number 3), they relish the new and unexpected – so long as it leaves them feeling good.


7. Aspiration 

If you want your message to resonate; say what people want to hear. Aspirational messages speak to the fears, hopes and dreams of your audience. They encourage people to want something better – something you can offer. But remember to be realistic, and deliver what you promise, or you risk losing credibility (see point 5). 


Could you be communicating better? Drop me a line to see how I can get your message reaching, engaging and connecting with more people. 

Marketing during a crisis (and why content is your secret weapon)

Marketing during a crisis (and why content is your secret weapon)

With events cancelled, face-to-face interactions on hold, and a swift shift to working from home, e-learning and online socialising – there’s never been a more important time to turn your attention to digital content. 


COVID-19 is shaking up business and consumer behaviour on a massive scale. But while the full impact of the pandemic is unclear, there’s one thing you can bank on — that digital content consumption is at a high.

In short, the people you want to be doing business with (immediately or in the future, depending on the nature of your business) are online now. Like, right now. 

And they’re waiting to hear from you. 

Your business may (or may not) have been hit hard by other negative impacts of the coronavirus, but now’s not the time to go silent. How you communicate during the next few weeks and months will define your brand for years to come. 

Whatever your business size, sector or current situation – here’s why focusing on digital content during the crisis can leverage your chances of success beyond the pandemic.  


It allows you to stay in touch 

You may not have the face-to-face interactions you once had, but your digital communications should remain undisrupted. 

Providing you have a clear and consistent content plan, digital is an effective way for you to keep in touch with your customers. It lets you stay on people’s radar and reassures your customers that you want to do business (either immediately or at a later date). 

Depending on the nature of your business, it can even help you increase lead generation and conversions during the pandemic, too. 


It strengthens your brand’s reputation

Careful storytelling during a crisis reminds customers of your brand’s mission, vision and values. It also lets you shout about how you’re adapting to change, gives you the chance to offer reassurance, and can prevent (or minimise) any panic. 

Showing this type of resilience (through adapting your message), reliability (communicating with your audience) and empathy (acknowledging that it’s not easy) will ultimately boost your company’s reputation. And that’s always a positive. 

It lets you adapt to new customer behaviours 

Whether your customers are interacting with you as usual, or your business has been turned upside down, a digital content plan can help you adapt to the changing demands of your audience. 

It goes without saying that behaviours have changed during this pandemic. But being aware of – and adapting to – these changes, will allow you to enhance your brand content to meet your customers’ evolving needs. 

Whether it’s giving advice, offering an industry perspective or creating interactive opportunities, the scope to reach, engage with, and convert even more loyal customers right now is endless. As an added bonus, they’ll be ready and waiting for you once the crisis is over, too. 

Ultimately, how you communicate – or fail to communicate – with your customers now will have an impact on your business beyond the pandemic. If you’ve fallen off the radar, or you’re worried that your content isn’t resonating with your audience, then drop me a line here to see how I can help. 

Why relevant content matters more now than ever (and 5 ways to deliver it)

Why relevant content matters more now than ever (and 5 ways to deliver it)

Even in the digital age, written content is still one of the most important elements of a marketing strategy. Word Has It founder, Vicky Morissette, explains why.

Audiences are being served more content than ever before. From Facebook videos and Instagram stories to the rise of TikTok, UG tutorials and everything in between – the content overload is real. 

Though some businesses have put all their eggs in one digital basket, straight up written (typed) content marketing is that vital human-to-human interaction that’s setting high performing businesses apart from the rest. 

But this doesn’t mean churning out content for content’s sake. That simply won’t cut it in 2020. Today’s content is all about relevance. It needs to bring your brand’s personality to life while engaging with your audience in a way that adds value and gains trust.

Sound like hard work? It may not be the easiest of tasks, but the pay-offs of generating relevant content are huge. Here’s why. 

You’ll improve your SERPs performance 

With search engines like Google making the move from human-coded algorithms to AI, relevant content has never been more important for organic search rankings. Once a user has clicked on your search engine result, they’ll know fairly soon  whether your page contains the content they’re looking for. Although this all takes place in a matter of seconds, a high bounce rate will continue to affect your overall search engine performance over time. The solution is to keep your content current, consistent and relevant.

You’ll enhance your SEO 

Although search engines take into consideration a ton of factors (including your site’s URL, page structure, speed and mobile friendliness), when it comes to website visibility, relevant content is still one of the most important elements of your SEO strategy. Giving your audience what they want will drive more leads (clicks) to your site. If your site’s content is relevant, search engines will recognise this and boost your rankings and drive more traffic to your site, too.

You’ll enhance engagement 

Creating relevant content won’t just get you brownie points with Google. Serving your audience content that’s relevant, valuable and relatable means you’re more likely to attract – and retain – your audience. This in turn can lead to enhanced leads, more conversions, and some serious ROI. 

You’ll become an industry leader 

Serving relevant content isn’t just about pleasing Google and your audience – It’s also your chance to show that you really do know your stuff. By positioning yourself or your brand as the expert in your field (through serving content that’s unique, insightful, relevant and engaging), you’ll gain authority, build trust and even enhance your audience’s purchasing decisions.

So far so insightful, but how can you make sure that the content you’re creating is relevant? Here’s 5 rules to stick to. 

Set the tone

Tone of voice, that is. It’s often overlooked but it’s vital for making your brand distinctive and memorable. It should reflect who you are and shape how you sound – so every piece of content you create sounds distinctly like you. Your tone of voice should reflect your brand’s core values and give you the chance to express your personality through words – whatever the subject or channel.

Be consistent 

Once you’ve established how your brand should sound, you need to make sure your brand message is consistent. This includes a consistent style and tone across all media channels. Deliver what your customers are expecting – and stick to it. Randomly changing any of these elements can seriously damage your authenticity, audience engagement and your overall campaign results. 

Remember less is more

Though it’s always a good idea to have plenty of quality content, quality is the key word here. Make every piece of content count – and avoid creating content for content’s sake. Low-value content can have an overall negative impact on your campaign – so make sure that every piece you create has value – for you and your audience. 

Know your audience 

Understanding what your audience wants is crucial to keeping your audience engaged. Creating content that addresses your niche’s needs, wants and whys won’t just help you grab your audience’s attention but will also help you keep it. Content that resonates with your audience is also more likely to attract interaction and social sharing – which, in turn, will extend your outreach and potential market share. 


Audiences have never been served so much content – which is why it’s never been more important to make it personal. Posting your own research, quotes and experiences won’t just help you gain authority in your field – but will also make your content stand out from the crowd. With so many online brands competing for audiences, personalised content could be the difference between a customer loyally doing business with you – or clicking to a competitor.

To sum it all up, making sure you have the right tone, message and content for your brand has never been more important. Word Has It is already helping national and international brands to find their voice, understand their audiences’ content needs, and deliver the strategies that get results.

Need some help with your own brand message? Click here to drop me a line to see how I can make your business stand apart from the rest.



Talk the talk! Why your brand’s tone of voice matters (and how to find it)

Talk the talk! Why your brand’s tone of voice matters (and how to find it)

Want to transform your business into a brand that connects with people in a way that builds trust and gets results? It’s time to watch your tone, says Word Has It founder, Vicky Morissette. 

It’s an area that’s often overlooked in a marketing strategy. But how you convey your message has the ability to transform your business into a brand that stands out from the crowd. It’s the personality that makes your content distinctive, memorable, and impactful. It’s also what keeps your audience coming back for more. 

I’m talking about your tone of voice. 

You can have a cool logo, punchy slogan, and branding that’s on point. But if your marketing communications don’t sound right, then you risk damaging your image, alienating your audience, and harming your revenue. 

Nobody wants that. 

The good news is that setting the right tone of voice won’t take you hours on end. But taking time to establish how you want your brand to sound can help you convey your core values, build trust, connect with your audience and get you some serious results.

What exactly is tone of voice? 

More than just your choice of words, tone of voice also refers to other written elements. These include rhythm, pace, tense, the length of your sentences and the style of language you choose to use. 

It’s not about what you say, but how you say it – and the impression it makes on everyone who reads it. 

Tone of voice documents or guidelines are used by brands around the world to shape marketing communications. These handy guides apply to any and every piece of content and communication you have with your audience. This includes your website content, blogs, social media posts, PPC campaigns and everything in between.

Why tone of voice matters

Your target audiences are served a constant stream of content choices every day – so it’s never been more important to make what you say (and how you say it) count. Here’s why tone of voice is such a big deal: 

  • It reflects your brand’s core beliefs 
  • It creates a memorable image of your brand
  • It creates consistency 
  • It builds trust with your audience
  • It aligns values 
  • It allows you to connect with your audience
  • It eliminates jargon 
  • It gets results 
How to establish your tone of voice 

The first step to finding your tone of voice is to do your research. You’ll need to get a solid understanding of your company and its employees, products, services, target markets (both existing and potential), customers and values. 

Once you’ve gained an insight into these areas, the next step is to translate these into a set of characteristics that define your brand’s core values. You’ll also want to think about how these characteristics will impact on the feelings of your audience.

Side note: If you’re having trouble establishing these then my Tone of Voice Discovery Workshop will help you quickly establish, define and elevate your key characteristics. It will also show you how these then translate into your unique tone of voice. 

The next stage is to create your tone of voice guidelines. This handy document will detail everything from your core characteristics and what you want people to think of you to how your written content should leave your audience feeling. It will also let you know how you should sound and – perhaps most importantly – how you shouldn’t.

It’s by no means a straightjacket, but rather a useful guide that will give you – and anyone writing for your brand – the confidence to express its personality through words. 

The final step is to familiarise your staff and writers with the guidelines, and to get writing. 

Need a little help to find your tone of voice? Click here to drop me a line and see how I can help your brand set the tone and get results.



This article was originally created by Vicky Morissette and featured on