Why It’s OK to Express Your Opinion in Business Writing

Meme image from the movie "The Big Lebowski" where The Dude and his friends are at a bowling alley looking stunned. The text over the image says, "Yeah, well, that's just like…your opinion, man."
It’s OK. You can share your opinion. (Everyone has one.)

Some people think you shouldn’t express opinions in business writing.

But business writing isn’t journalism, where you need to give both sides of a story. Sometimes it’s best to let your opinions come through because it lets people know where you stand.

It’s also a great way to demonstrate your expertise and showcase your thought process.

A lot of businesses are interested in becoming thought leaders within their industries. They want prospects and customers to trust them. It’s tough to accomplish this if you’re not willing to express your opinions from time to time.

It’s best if you do it in a certain way, though, so here are a few tips.

Stay on Topic

This isn’t a license to chime in on any subject. I’m not talking about being opinionated about unrelated topics, such as sports or politics, but rather about topics that are related to whatever business you’re in.

Remember, you’re a businessperson, not a philosopher, sports analysts, or political commentator.

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 hypothetical ad agency is able to articulate what it thinks is great about or wrong with SEO, it’s providing a useful service—helping its prospects and customers make a better decision for their businesses.

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Keep It Professional

In business writing it’s usually best to keep a professional tone when you’re expressing opinions—it shouldn’t come off as overly negative or personal.

Keep in mind the image you want your company to project.

Writing an opinion piece isn’t an excuse to forget about your branding. In fact, you should be expressing opinions as a way 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 younger generations, such as millennials—the group that will soon be the No. 1 market influencer.

It’s best to stick to ideas and broad topics instead of criticizing specific people or companies. You shouldn’t be actively trying to make enemies. It’s just bad business. Also, going after specific people or companies could place you in perilous legal territory.

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Plan Ahead

It’s OK to be a little controversial, but try to avoid doing so blindly.

If you’re going to write about something that’s debatable within your industry, do so on purpose. 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 probably disagree with you. Just make sure to think about that ahead of time.

Ask yourself: Who’s likely to disagree with this, and why?

That way you’re mentally prepared for any pushback. It also makes your writing stronger because you’ve considered both sides.

For example, Warren Buffett has been critical of the hedge fund industry in general. He believes that the average hedge fund charges high fees, while not providing enough return on investment. (Note that 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 contended that, including fees, costs, and expenses, an S&P 500 index fund would outperform a hand-picked portfolio of hedge funds over the 10 years ending December 31, 2017. The bet pits two basic investing philosophies against each other: passive and active investing.”

All of this has been great publicity for Buffett. Additionally, it helps investors make better decisions for their portfolios. And that’s exactly what you should be aiming for when expressing your opinions in business writing.

If you need a professional copy editor for your next business writing project, get in touch.

Dave Baker

View posts by Dave Baker
Hi, I'm Dave Baker, founder and copy chief of Super Copy Editors. I have more than two decades of professional proofreading and copy editing experience, including work for The Nation magazine, The New York Times, and The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, where I shared two staff Pulitzer Prizes after Hurricane Katrina. Today, I have put together a hand-picked team of copy editors, and we especially love working with ad agencies, marketing departments, and education companies to make their text as polished as possible. Learn more here.

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