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Dec. 13, 2011 By

The Unruly World of Email Etiquette

The Unruly World of Email Etiquette

The Subject of email, specifically work-related email, has crept up in a number of news stories recently, thanks to recent reports of Thierry Breton, the CEO of one of Europe's largest IT companies, Atos, stating that the humble electronic email was not an “appropriate” communication tool.

While Breton also admitted that he's not sent a work-related email since some time in 2008, and that he intends to ban internal emails by 2014, email still is a very important part of modern life – especially in a work environment. But while it's still seen as such an important method of communication for people around the world, it never ceases to amaze me how often I am sent poorly-written, inaccurate, irrelevant and unsolicited emails.

Let me give this blog a bit of perspective: outside of my work at QueryClick, I work in theatre criticism (dahling), and as you might imagine this involves being in almost daily email contact with press offices, PR companies, theatre companies and freelance writers, directors, performers and the like. Email is obviously a very important part of my life and anyone else involved in this industry, and in this day and age it's the key to creating and maintaining valuable relationships with other people in the arts and journalism sectors. However, every so often I get an email that annoys me, either in its tone, content, or lack of professionalism, so with that in mind, here are a few examples:

The 'Dear Sir' Email

My personal email address has my first name in it, which is of course, Amy – (not Aimee, Amiee, or Ami.) The name Amy has always been, and as far as I know, will always be, a woman's name. So when I get an email that begins with 'Dear Sir' I won't read it, and I will delete it. Why? If the sender hasn't bothered to double-check the name or even the gender of the person they are emailing, then why should I bother reading their email?

The Last Minute Email

There have been times when I've been sent an email about a show that sounds fantastic, but the email was sent the day the show is due to begin, and sometimes with only a few hours notice before the curtain goes up, which means I can't see it if I already have plans. While this could be down to their press person being under prepared, disorganised or just plain unlucky, giving anyone less than a day's notice on an important event isn't fair on anybody.

The Geographically Irrelevant Email

There have been times when me, a wee writer based in Edinburgh, Scotland, has been invited to a film première, a theatre festival, a film festival, or even an arts and crafts evening somewhere in Germany, France and even Spain. While it would be fantastic to take up these offers, paying for flights, accommodation, food and other expenses is currently not something a part time writer can do.

The 'Give me Coverage' Email

Of course, PR companies, press officers and journalists all rely on each other to survive, but sending a writer an email demanding coverage in their paper/website, or even asking for money for said coverage isn't going to get you anywhere. Go away.

The Misspelled Email

Nothing irks me more than getting an email that is littered with spelling errors. Sentences begin with a capital letter, my name begins with a capital letter, and please, for goodness sake, use punctuation.

The thing about email is that it will often be the only way you will be able to get to know people in a certain industry, so your first email is the first impression that the receiver will have of you, so it has to count in so many ways.

  • So if you have a very important email to send, then here are a few tips:
  • Try to keep your email simple, friendly and concise.
  • Be approachable, ask the person you are emailing questions, such as, “How are you?”
  • If you have any attachments in the email, make sure they are the correct ones.
  • If you are linking to an external website within the email, make sure the URL is correct.
  • If you must link to a Tumblr or other account, make sure that your page can be viewed by a guest, as having to register and then login to another website is a pain and also takes time.
  • If you don't have a response after a few days, then feel free to email them again, BUT be polite.

All this should help the person that you are contacting want to reply to your email, so make sure that your personality and your subject are really clear in your correspondence. And if you do make any mistakes – don't ignore them, own them! Email them, apologise and correct your mistake - be professional and fun at the same time, it can be done!

Do you have any email horror stories? Contact us and let us know!

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