Every day, each of the representatives of the PR profession has to write various emails in huge amounts. They communicate with clients, journalists, editors, etc. Therefore, a PR specialist simply needs to know the business email etiquette not only in order to look solid and have a good brand reputation but also in order to build the right relationships with the media.
Of course, all editors are different. For some of them, you can simply write “Ok” in one second, and this will be enough. But there are some people who may perceive a too short email to be disrespectful.
And by sending an illiterate message about work, you can completely lose your partner or client. In this article, we will discuss the main rules of email delivery to keep the reputation of a company as decent as possible.
The Most Common Rules of Email Etiquette
So, when creating an electronic letter, you need to follow all the same formalities as when writing a regular letter. First, you need to understand that you want to make a good impression on your editor so that he or she understands that you or your company is a reliable partner.
1. Spelling and Punctuation
Most importantly, remember that checking for spelling and punctuation mistakes is essential. By making mistakes in emails, you show your company and yourself as an unreliable partner, who will also be careless about joint affairs. In addition, you should care about this part because spelling mistakes can be a spam trigger. As a result, email services can apply filters to you and this will create deliverability issues.
Emails should not be big. Netiquette rules say that an email must be half the size of a letter written on paper. If you need to send something important containing a ton of information, then it is better to write a short accompanying text in the email and arrange the information itself as an attachment.
When sending a large attachment exceeding 200-500 kilobytes, be sure to warn your recipient about this. It’s best not to send large attachments in emails, though. There are many other ways to send large texts, photos, or sound without email. It is better to use Cloud sharing or tools like G Suite or DropBox.
3. Welcome the Recipient First
Talking about the content of your response, here it will be useful to imagine that you want to send a welcome email. First of all, before talking to a media representative, it will be useful to introduce yourself and your company. And just as discussed in the linked article, it is essential to be straightforward and clearly define your point about the topic.
4. Electronic Signature
An electronic signature is several lines of words, which are attached at the end of the message. The presence of a professional email signature is a sign of politeness in business correspondence.
An electronic signature is also an unobtrusive advertisement for a company. As a rule, direct advertising in emails from unfamiliar people is perceived negatively, but a few lines of signature will be accepted loyally. Also, it will help your respondent to uniquely identify you. And be sure to include several possible ways to connect with you.
Basic rules for drawing up an electronic signature include the following:
- An electronic signature should not exceed 5-6 lines.
- The number of characters in a line must be no more than 70.
5. Long Answers
Remember, in the business world, you should always answer emails. Otherwise, you may be considered irresponsible and frivolous, which will affect the business reputation of the company not in the best way. And the session of the electronic dialogue is similar to the telephone etiquette: the one who started a correspondence first should also end it first.
Please note that if you do not reply to an email within 7 days, this is a clear refusal to communicate. Therefore, if your editor is not answering you and you want to keep the business relationship, you need to call or send another email to your business partner 2-3 days after to clarify whether the information has reached him or not. This will show that you care about that person or company, and this is what should always be done by PR specialists.
6. Notify the Sender That You Received the Email
Send a short reply to the sender that you have read his email. This is useful when the sender of the letter expects you to do something about his request. These three seconds will not take much of your time, but the sender of the letter will be sure that his letter has been read.
7. Be Careful With Jokes
The irony is often lost when writing since we do not hear intonations and do not see the expressions on the faces of people with whom you communicate. In professional correspondence, you should turn off your sense of humor until you are totally sure that your recipient understands it.
8. People From Different Cultures Write Differently
Due to cultural differences between people, misunderstandings often arise. And this especially happens when they are texting each other. Representatives of some cultures (Japanese, Arabs, Chinese) first want to get to know a person better, and only then start doing business. It is acceptable for them to write and receive more personal emails.
Therefore, when contacting them, it is totally fine to send a welcome email. On the other hand, representatives of such countries as Germany, America, or Scandinavian countries prefer to move to work-related issues in correspondence as soon as possible.
9. Double-Check if the Recipient Is Correct
It is very important to make sure that the correct name is entered. It is easy to make a mistake here, especially if you are a PR specialist, who has to compose tens or even hundreds of emails every day. This will cause tons of inconvenience both to you and to the receiver.
10. Stick to Classic Fonts
In business correspondence, it is desirable to stick to classic fonts, colors, and sizes. Sending complex letters is not the best idea. The main rule is that your letters should be easy to read. It is accepted to use 10-12 point size and simple fonts like Arial, Calibri, and Times New Roman. When it comes to color, black is the safest choice.
11. Be Careful About Secret Information
Don’t repeat the mistake of CIA chief David Petraeus. Petraeus resigned on November 10, 2012, after his alleged lover’s email was hacked and it was revealed that he was giving her access to secret management information.
Therefore, always remember that every email leaves its mark and anyone else can read your letter. So do not write anything that people not from your company should not have access to. Don’t write anything that can ruin your reputation and harm others.
Email Etiquette When Your Brand is Mentioned in Media
There is another side of email etiquette, which is related to conflict solving. Media monitoring, which can be done with the help of Mediatoolkit, can help you identify potential crises and mitigate damage through a fast and smart response.
Sometimes, even different conflicts may occur because some media mentions your company or client (in this case, it may be required to create a crisis communication plan). And it is essential to answer in such a way as to resolve the conflict and maintain a decent image. Below, we will discuss four critical mistakes that can be done in case of such a situation, and how to resolve them.
Getting Outraged by the Media Behavior
If your goal is to resolve conflict, retain the customer for the company, and save the reputation, your resentment in the response letter is unlikely to contribute to this. Again, your emails should look as professional as possible.
Not Responding at All
Ignoring means that you do not care about the occurred situation and your reputation overall. And this, in turn, will affect your reputation just as if you delay the response, or even worse.
Admitting Your Mistakes
In most cases, giving arguments to justify yourself, assuring that this will not happen again, asking someone to give you a chance to fix everything is not the right way to write an email. Quite often, media scandals are just provocations, not something serious. Justifying your company is not the smartest way of dealing with business issues. Therefore, in response to the editors, in your emails, you have to look professional, calm, and strong.
How to Act: The Proper Email Etiquette
So, monitoring the media, you mentioned a piece of information that can spoil your reputation, or maybe even your clients wrote to you about the occurred situation. In such a case, it is essential to clarify the situation to your clients or editors. The average standard response time to an email is no more than 2-3 hours.
This requirement is based on the specifics of e-mail as a means of promptly resolving issues. In addition, if your task is to resolve the situation, a quick response serves as a sign of your interest in the client and a sign of customer focus.
If you need time to sort out the situation, and you understand that it may take more than 2-3 hours, immediately write to interested people that you will respond to them soon. And the main advice is to remember to clearly divide the emotional and professional part of the email, leaving only the emotional one.
Email Etiquette Tips from Industry Leaders
Public relations is the art of shaping the personality of an organization, which requires perfect planning of every step. And professionalism in this area comes only with experience. Especially for you, I have prepared quotes from five leaders in this field, which will help you better build your brand identity in front of the media. They are as follows:
Be considerate of journalists’ time
Journalists are some of the busiest people, so my first rule is: be considerate of their time. If you’re sending a pitch, keep your ideas concise. Offer some context, present your topic and how you’ll make it intriguing, but refrain from writing long outlines. They’ll ask you for details if they care.
Other than that, use your common sense and ask yourself: what would turn me off in an email? Is someone getting my name wrong? Or following up five times when I never encouraged them to do so?
Email etiquette in your relationship with the press is no different than interacting with journalists in real life. Keep that in mind and you won’t write anything you wouldn’t say face to face.
Corina Leslie, PR Manager at ZeroBounce
Don’t mislead the recipient
Email is the most commonly used form of communication for PR professionals, so how to use it is crucial. But sometimes PR specialists make unforgivable mistakes while writing important emails.
Here are three don’ts every public relations professional should remember about:
1. Don’t send misleading subject lines. If you write to inform about a press inquiry, tell it in your subject line. Having a clear and direct subject line will help the reader know right away whether they are interested in your offer.
2. Don’t rely on body language. Because you can’t support your words with a smile, be careful when trying to communicate a certain tone. When choosing a certain potentially dual phrase, make sure its meaning won’t be misunderstood.
3. Don’t forget to proofread the email. Nothing kills the love of your readers more than an email full of misspellings and grammatical errors. Your emails should be of as high standards as your service, otherwise, people would be forced to conclude: if their emails have so many mistakes, their product may be as bad.
Zhanna Tarakanova, PR Manager at eSputnik
Add email address as the last step
Email etiquette matters. You need to think through every fine detail, double and triple-checking every letter of an email before you hit that ‘Send’ button.
Personally, I’ve got a tried-and-test formula that works for me, but I do like to experiment with my subject lines. The last thing I do when I’m writing an email is to add the email address. This avoids any embarrassing missends.
Don’t expect a response from every single pitch you send. Never, ever spam out follow-up emails asking them if they received your previous email. I prefer to use email tracking tools to see if my emails have been opened, which is a much less invasive method and helps me write a more meaningful follow-up if they have opened.
If you do need to follow up, make three the absolute maximum number before moving on; pitch them a different, but relevant story if you have it.
Finally, be sincere, don’t fake it, and don’t overdo it with compliments. Journalists are masters of tone, and they’ll sniff out insincerity in an instance.
Anna Pozniak, PR & Communications Manager at NetHunt
Respond timely to catch the opportunity
As a professional, you want to make sure you’re always being polite and respectful in your email communication, and media are no exception. Some core, basic rules of business email etiquette that never fail are: use a work email, address the recipient by (their) name, use a proper greeting and classic fonts, don’t “yell” with CAPS, and most importantly, proofread your email for grammar, spelling, and typos. That is if you’re lucky to get them to open and read it.
Journalists are extremely busy people — nevertheless, you shouldn’t try to “click-bait” them into opening your message. Instead, use a short and neat subject line to grab their attention, and if you do, get straight to the point. Unlike corporate communication, being concise and direct in your message to a journalist is an advantage.
Whether it’s a pitch of a new release or a response to a negative review of your product, keep the tone neutral, and stick to facts rather than emotions. Don’t expect a reply, unless they are interested. And if you do get an answer, make sure to respond timely, as an opportunity could expire quicker than you think.
Alyona Gorbatko, PR Specialist at MacPaw
By following these simple email etiquette rules, you will easily achieve success in business correspondence, and in the eyes of different media, your reputation will be much better. And it does not actually matter if you have to spend a little more time composing this or that electronic letter.