A communications case study

University of Reading

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Who I worked with

University of Reading Communications team

The challenge

The University is a large, complex organisation made up of thousands of people who work on a vast range of different things. Using a consistent tone of voice across all non-academic communications helps to quickly show their readers who they are and what they’re like to deal with. The Communications team wanted to develop a tone of voice guide for their colleagues to support consistency. As a busy team, they have a lot of projects on the go at the same time, so they asked me to write the guide for them.

What happened?

I started by having a conversation with the Head of Corporate Communications to fully understand the way that she wanted her colleagues to be able to use the guide. I followed this up be reviewing tone of voice guides from other Universities to identify best practice. Following this initial research, I drafted 10 key tone of voice principles that supported the University of Reading’s brand. Once these had been approved, I wrote the guidance for how to apply each of these principles and put together before and after examples to demonstrate each principle in practice.

The outcome

I provided the team with a tone of voice guide written in a way that could be used as a standalone document and as part of their broader brand guidelines and toolkit. The Communications team adopted the guide with minimal amendments to the initial draft. Roll out of the guide will initially focus on colleagues who write most frequently on behalf of the University.

“Sarah’s understanding and experience of writing for the Higher Education sector were invaluable both in identifying the tone of voice principles we needed and in translating them into practical guidance for our people to use.”

Vicky Pearson, Head of Corporate Communication

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