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Magic Pronouns

“You’re traveling through another dimension…a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind…a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead. Your next stop…the Twilight Zone.”

Remember those words? What made the beginning of that old TV show so compelling wasn’t just Rod Serling’s distinctive delivery or the music (they helped), but the fact that the story it was about us, the audience. We were traveling. It was addressed in the second person.

Try reading it in the first or third person. It just doesn’t have the same impact. Think about that when you write narrative commercials. Using the second person perspective allows the listener to make the commercial theirs. Try replacing the “I, he, she, and they” pronouns with “you” in a few of your spots. It will force you to rewrite them and might make them more interesting. As you do, be careful not to tell people what to do, but suggest, intrigue, let them find themselves in the stories and make the decisions themselves.

If your storyteller is a representative of the demographic or psychographic group you’re trying to reach, then first person can be very effective, so there are no hard and fast rules here.

Third person can be used effectively to denote those who are “not like us,” who didn’t have the foresight to visit the advertiser, or buy the product or invest in the service, or didn’t know about it.

The right pronoun in the right place, for the right audience can be magic.

Jeffrey Hedquist email jeffrey@hedquist.com.

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Radio Blog