How to hit the right tone for voice box
On NBC’s reality television series, “The Voice,” singers compete for fame. A panel of celebrity coaches hears the contestants blind, listening for whether a singer has what it takes to win fans. Then coaches guide selected singers through the competition.
Ruralite Services may not offer a cash prize or recording contract, but every month the editorial team listens for striking voices, too. Are you ready to sing?
Inside The Voice
Ruralite’s Voice Box column offers commentary on power issues. Utilities use the optional content on local pages each month. Regional and national energy and legislative experts write the column. Utility staff voices are often featured—including general managers, communicators, member services managers, engineers and lineworkers.
Each energy-focused column ranges from 700 to 800 words.
“We want to hear from people who can bring personal experiences into what they are writing,” says Assistant Editor Brandon Pomrenke, who coordinates the column. “Saying, ‘This is how things are’ is fine. But if you can actually explain why you feel the way you do, it’s powerful. Anecdotes are great. Instead of saying, ‘Bills go up in the wintertime,’ a strong writer will say, ‘Bills go up in the wintertime because the change in outside temperatures pushes your system to work harder to keep you comfortable.’”
Winning Themes, Relatable Tone
Want to try your hand at writing a column? Voice Box topics cover energy efficiency, technology, electrical safety, and politics—from hot water heaters and electric vehicles to the latest legislation impacting energy.
“The best columns share anything that can help make life better for consumers or give readers a better feel for what is happening in current technology or the political arena,” says Brandon.
But a strong theme is not enough. The author needs an approachable tone, too.
“When people can relate to what you write, the column is much more fun to read,” says Brandon. “People who can put their personal experiences at the forefront of their writing make Voice Box a lot more interesting.”
Brandon advises aspiring columnists to explain the topic on a level the average reader can understand and with a broad regional and national perspective, if appropriate. Avoid jargon, and make the piece conversational.
Ready to Sing?
Unlike the reality show, no singing duel is required for a chance to write a column. The editors actively search for strong, relevant voices every month.
Know someone in your community who might be a good fit for Voice Box? Have you had a personal experience with an emerging energy technology that readers can learn from? Let Brandon know. He can coach you through the process, making sure the column is a win for everyone. And who knows? Your voice might be the voice readers are waiting for.
—Send VoiceBox column ideas by emailing Brandon.