||People seem to have a psychological
problem with writing e-mails. E-mails are not prepared with the same
meticulous preparation that would accompany a pitch letter or fax,
even though bad grammar, spelling and poor preparation is probably
more damaging with e-mail than other forms of writing. Ensure that
any e-mail you send to third parties are well thought out and proof
read. Just because it's on screen doesn't remove the need for attention
Keep it short
||Everyone is receiving a growing
number of e-mails. Keep your e-mail to the point. A nice touch is
to remember to keep your key message 'above the fold'. Many people
preview their email, i.e. by highlighting the email you can read the
top part without having to open the message (see figure 5). Make sure
your pitch is up front to avoid the delete key.
Tightly target your e-mail
||The advances in e-mail filters
mean you have one chance with a journalist. If you Spam the likelihood
that your e-mail address will be filtered is high. What does that
mean? Future e-mails you send will go directly to the journalist's
deleted folder without them even knowing you sent it - and you won't
know either. Any e-mail you send must be personalised.
Don't send unrequested attachments
||Never, never, never. Don't
ever send attachments without a specific request. This continues to
occur no matter how many times its said. The reason for no attachments
is firstly viruses (a sure way to be filtered) and secondly increasingly
people collect e-mail on the road, from home, and your press release
is taking up valuable space.
||When communicating on the
Internet, I always recommend using the lowest common denominator.
When sending e-mail use 'plain text'. Fancy colours and fonts may
brighten your day, but if the receiver is using plain text then your
email may become a garbled mess and avoid sending HTML e-mails at
E-mail lasts forever
||The greatest unique benefit
of e-mail is also its biggest risk. E-mail can be stored, archived,
searched and forwarded. Don't communicate information, thoughts or
plans on e-mail that you wouldn't want published. There are two reasons
for this. Firstly security experts tell us that you shouldn't include
anything in an e-mail, including attachments that you wouldn't write
on a postcard and secondly e-mail is increasingly used in litigation
||If someone has an immensely
busy inbox, they have to make judgements without opening your e-mail.
It's your job as a communicator to make sure they open, read and take
an action on that e-mail. If your name is unknown to them they move
their finger to the delete key, if the subject line doesn't concern
them they press it.
Don't request notifications
||There's a disturbing trend
among e-mailers (and spammers) of requesting a receipt when someone
opens, deletes or moves an e-mail from them. Don't do it. Most e-mail
packages open a dialogue box which asks 'sender X has asked for a
receipt when you open this e-mail do you want to send one?' - Not
only do I always say no. I find it intrusive.
Maximize e-mail signatures
||If you send twenty e-mails
a day that is twenty opportunities to promote or inform. Use it! Including
e-mail signatures is commonplace but including news and/or links to
products, announcements etc, is not. Add news to your signature today!
- Keep it simple and short.
Avoid viruses like the plague!
||An everyday part of life on
the Internet is viruses. Its unavoidable and you can be sure that
the only guaranteed things in life are death and taxes (and viruses).
Take precautions against viruses. Ensure your virus checker is up
to date. Anti-Virus products are modestly priced but indispensable
to someone working in online communications. Make sure you get all
the most regular updates.
Write for strangers
||If you're e-mail is communicating
bad news, or sensitive news. There is a strong chance that the e-mail
will be distributed outside the company. To protect the company from
such implications, you should write your e-mail in the full knowledge
that it might be read