I work as a copywriter in Sydney and across Australia. Often, that entails editing and rewriting ‘bad’ copy.
What is ‘bad’ copy?
That question has many answers but here I’d like to address one major issue. It’s a copywriting style you’ll see often in board papers, tenders, bids, corporate brochures and the like.
What is it?
Take this example:
‘The house was built by Jack.’
Jack built the house; what’s the problem in saying so?
It’s all about responsibility
In the simple example above, there’s no real harm done. However, when it comes to official documents (especially those that go on public record), passive voice is a big copout.
Because it removes responsibility.
How often have you seen, ‘It was decided…’ in a corporate document?
A fair few times, I’ll guess.
No one or no organisation accepts responsibility for the decision.
To my mind, if you believe in what you’re writing and offering, then you should step up and make it clear that you’re involved, that whatever ‘was done’ is something to which you’ll put your name.
“We did it. We decided.”
No one reads gibberish
Apart from anything else, when you use passive language, you’ll end up with contorted sentence constructions that no one can decipher.
So – when you’re selling an idea or a project, take responsibility. Let your readers know that you stand by your actions and decisions.
You’ll reap the rewards in client trust.