Some people think you shouldn’t express opinions in business writing.
But business writing isn’t journalism, where you need to give objective facts and both sides of a story. Sometimes it’s better to let your opinions come through because it lets people know where you stand.
Expressing your opinion is also a great way to demonstrate your expertise and showcase your thought process about something that’s important to your industry or product.
A lot of businesses are interested in becoming thought leaders within their industries, and for good reason. Being seen as a go-to expert in your field is a great way to build trust among prospects and customers, and it’s one of the ways big companies like IBM and Adobe have created such massive success. But it’s tough to accomplish this if you’re not willing to express your opinions from time to time.
However, that doesn’t mean you can say whatever you want whenever you want. After all, you’re still doing business writing, and you want your company to look good.
Here are three tips on how to express your opinions in business writing in a way that builds your credibility.
1. Stay on Topic
Getting the green light to express your beliefs in business writing doesn’t mean you should weigh in on just any subject. Avoid opinionated missives about unrelated topics, such as sports or politics, and focus on topics related to your industry.
Remember: You’re a businessperson, not a philosopher, sports analyst, or political commentator.
Write only about topics that are relevant to your industry and product, and save the other stuff for your personal website, social media, or conversations with friends.
For example, there’s nothing wrong with an ad agency expressing its opinions on search engine optimization. The agency’s prospects and customers are bombarded with information every day about advertising, social media, and SEO.
So if this agency can articulate its thoughts on SEO, it’s providing a useful service—helping its clients make better business decisions. This would drive up the agency’s credibility and reputation as a subject matter expert.
However, if the agency were to take a stance on the latest election, for example, that would needlessly divide its audience and cause confusion among clients.
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2. Keep It Professional
In business writing, it’s usually best to keep a professional tone when expressing opinions—it shouldn’t come off as overly negative or personal.
Always keep in mind the image you want your company to project. Unless your branding is especially bold or edgy, you probably want to come across as informed, diligent, and friendly. You don’t want to say anything that might be vulgar or offensive or make people uncomfortable.
Writing an opinion piece isn’t an excuse to forget about your branding. In fact, you should be expressing opinions to strengthen your brand and enhance your image.
“People want to support businesses that align with their values, beliefs, and opinions,” says Jessie May, a branding expert who maintains that you shouldn’t worry about alienating anyone.
“When you don’t share your opinion,” she adds, “it leaves people in the dark about where you stand. They wonder if they should trust you. … Worst of all, when you don’t share your opinion, you don’t make an impact through your message.”
Giving your opinion gives your business authenticity, which is especially important for millennials and Gen Z.
It’s best to stick to ideas and broad topics instead of criticizing specific people or companies. Don’t actively try to make enemies—it’s just bad business. Also, going after specific people or companies could place you in perilous legal territory.
If you need someone to look over your business writing to ensure you’re staying in line with your branding, it’s always good practice to get a professional proofreader.
Super Copy Editors provides comprehensive business proofreading services that go beyond grammar mistakes and can help you with tone and flow, as well as ensuring your writing is projecting the image you want it to. Learn more here.
3. Plan Ahead
Even when you stick to industry-related subject matter, you’re still bound to run into a heated topic. While it’s OK to be a little controversial, try to avoid doing so blindly.
For instance, if you’re going to write about something that’s debatable within your industry, do it with purpose and intention. You don’t want to accidentally write something that receives a lot of criticism and pushback if that wasn’t your plan.
Whatever position you take, some people will inevitably disagree with you, something you should think about before even writing the piece. You don’t want to be caught off guard by a crusade of people with more well-thought-out counterpoints to your argument. If you deal with it in an uninformed or even combative way, you can end up making your business appear unprofessional.
- Who’s likely to disagree with this and why?
- How can I strengthen my argument so it holds up against naysayers?
- Does it add to my business’s brand or credibility to take a stance on this argument?
When you carefully consider both sides of an issue and take the time to create a solid argument, you make your writing stronger. It also mentally prepares you for any pushback.
For example, Warren Buffett has been critical of the hedge fund industry in general. He believes the average hedge fund charges high fees while not providing enough return on investment. (Take note: He’s not criticizing individual hedge funds or their managers.)
Buffett even offered a famous public wager to back it up. This article sums up the bet:
“In 2008, Warren Buffett issued a challenge to the hedge fund industry, which in his view charged exorbitant fees that the funds’ performances couldn’t justify. Protégé Partners LLC accepted, and the two parties placed a million-dollar bet. … Buffett’s ultimately successful contention was that, including fees, costs and expenses, an S&P 500 index fund would outperform a hand-picked portfolio of hedge funds over 10 years. The bet [pitted] two basic investing philosophies against each other: passive and active investing.”
All of this was great publicity for Buffett, who won the bet on December 31, 2017. Additionally, it helped investors make better decisions for their portfolios. And that’s exactly what you should aim for when expressing your opinions in business writing.
Make Your Business Writing Pop With Super Copy Editors
Expressing opinions in business writing can be an excellent tool for building credibility and trust and becoming a subject matter expert in your field. All of these contribute to good business, and careful use of opinion should be incorporated into your business strategy.
However, opinions can be tricky to navigate, and when you say something too controversial or factually incorrect, it could potentially damage your business’s reputation.
If you want to make sure that your opinions in business writing accurately reflect the image you want your business to portray, the expert team at Super Copy Editors can help.
With years of experience in proofreading for grammar, style, syntax, and voice, Super Copy Editors will ensure your writing is clear, easy to read, and, most important, captures your brand voice. Get your quote today and learn more about how we can help polish your writing.