We have a new post from Samantha Quinn who’s knocked our socks off with her great attitude, smarts, and willingness to jump in and problem solve on any and everything.
Sam suggested writing a blog on the basics of Sending and Formatting Emails, and we thought this was a great idea because we get a lot of awesome emails from students and young emerging PR stars in the making asking if we’re hiring. Other writers want to know how we broke into the PR biz.
We love getting these emails. Lots. It’s exciting to know there’s a new generation of emerging talent who want to be part of shaping future conversations. Okay, it’s also nice to get asked for advice… And, yes, we like giving advice.
One thing we’ve noticed is that more than a few of these emails don’t always follow some the basic rules when it comes to professional email etiquette. In fact, there are a few email issues we see that occur on a regular basis.
So this post is for the young up and comers who take the time and effort to write us. Oh, and from here on in, we will stop talking in the royal “we” third party. Starting….now!
Over to you, Sam!
Writing an email can be hard and time-consuming, particularly if the person on the receiving end is someone whom you’re hoping to make a favorable impression with.
I’m paraphrasing here, but I think this Pascal quote sums it up perfectly: “If I Had More Time, I Would Have Written a Shorter Letter.”
A good email, like any good writing, should be clear and concise. That takes time, but it’s time well spent if you’re trying to make a great impression. Because emails are often sent in a hurry or just in a response to what that person sent you, they can end up filled with typos and spelling errors. So I’ve put together a few simple reminders and communication tips. Before you send that next email out, just double check that…
You have a subject line
Having a subject line in an email is important. Think of it as the “title” of your email. And getting titles right is super critical. Shakespeare understood this. He knew that an audience had to be “positioned” before they arrived at the theatre. (Whats in a Name?)
We don’t want to have guess what the subject of your email is. Always keep the reader in mind. An email without a subject line is hard to search for in your inbox.
Remember: Make sure to keep the subject line brief and to the point, because if it’s long and trails off at the end it can look like spam.
Make sure you have a greeting and a closing
Using a consistent greeting and closing is essential, and varies depending on the person (or their position) you’re speaking to.
And don’t forget to end the email with your name (believe me, it happens). And when possible and/or necessary: your title, your company, any alternative contact information you’d like to provide, and even a website.
If you’re using the person’s name in the email, make sure its spelt correctly
I know, right? But I’ve seen this more than once. Nothing is worse than sending the email and realizing you spelt the name of the person you were discussing incorrectly… Awkward.
Use proper sentence structure and grammar
Double check to make sure your sentences are capitalized, that you’re using periods at the end of your sentences and proper punctuation. And please, try not to go too heavy on the caps lock or exclamation marks. No one likes to be shouted at.
Unless you’re friendly with who you’re sending the email to, keep the “lol”ing and “omg”ing or any other short forms to a minimum.
I know it sounds obvious, but make sure all of your spelling is correct. You can’t go wrong getting someone to proofread your email. You don’t want the person on the other end reviewing your email like they were a high school English teacher. There’s a memory we canal live without.
Space out your email into proper flowing sentences, trying to keep it at two to four sentences a paragraph. You want it to scan easily.
–If you have attachments, make sure they’re attached
Pretty embarrassing when you’re applying for a job and then forget to attach your resume, eh?
Make sure you attach the file and while you’re at it make sure it’s a reasonable file size. And don’t give the file a ridiculous name.
If you have to send larger files, try and make them into a zip file to make it easier to send. And when you do send it, make sure that it’s in a clearly marked (in the subject line and file name) so that the receiver doesn’t lose it.
-Make sure to review your email before sending it
I can’t stress this enough. You never know what you could have missed, what could be added, taken out, etc.
Know the differences between To, From, CC, RR, and BCC
A gentle reminder: Only put the person(s) that the email directly pertains to in the To: field, and that you would like a reply from.
Cc: is a handy tool to include the people needing to be kept in the loop about whatever you’re talking about, or in some cases when they’re being referred to in that email. Also that way that person can add in at any time!
But don’t overuse Cc: because eventually you will just get ignored.
Don’t be that person that uses Return Receipt on every email. Chances are it’s going to be rejected on the other end anyway.
Make sure you use the BCc: field properly, because it can sometimes be used as gossiping or perceived as talking behind someone’s back. But it can also be handy when wanting to include someone in an email with an outsourced client or stranger as a way of protecting their privacy. Your friends don’t want their emails shared with strangers!
And make sure your name is displayed properly in the “From” field so that it’s not in caps lock or is just your email address.
When forwarding emails, always try to write a personal message above the email whether that be to explain what the forwarded email is regarding (especially if there’s no context).
Don’t get an ego bruise if the person doesn’t email you back right away. Some people don’t use reply receipts when they are going away, or just have too much on their plate to respond. If they don’t get back to you right away, depending on the situation you can call them or send a follow-up in a few days.
It’s also a good idea to check your junk and spam boxes every so often, just to see what accidentally slipped into there and could have been missed.
Make sure your adware, spyware and virus programs are up-to-date and set to update on their own to make sure you’re protected and that you’re not sending viruses to your friends and co-workers.
When deleting emails be sure to check them first so you’re not deleting something important.
If you’re going away somewhere, try and always use reply receipts (at least in your business email) that way the person isn’t waiting on you and wondering why you’re not responding. It’s just the considerate thing to do.
Who knew writing an email is so much like writing an essay? Emails aren’t rocket science but it’s a smart idea to put thought into them before sending; and using basic considerations and manners when writing them. Chances are if you write a great email to someone they’re gonna write you back.