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Chapter 14

Posted in Reading Notes by Maggie on July 6, 2010

This information is found in PUBLIC RELATION WRITING AND MEDIA TECHNIQUES, 6th edition, by Dennis L. Wilcox.

Chapter 14:  Writing E-mail, Memos, and Proposals

Public relations writing can involve writing through any vehicle- some important and often used writing includes e-mail, memos and proposals.  The PR writer may become well versed in all of these types of writing quickly because they are used so commonly.  When writing for any of the above stated, it is important to “write smart, simple, and short,” says Richard E. Neff, a consultant in Belgium who writes for Communication World.

Although e-mail or, electronic mail, is a commonly used communication tool by most people today, it’s important to note the difference between professional and ‘play’ use. Professionals should recognize the limitations of e-mail and effectively use its’ advantages efficiently and responsibility and ethically.  E-mail has many advantages, including:

  • It reduces the cost of employee communications
  • Increases the distribution of messages to more employees
  • Flattens the corporate hierarchy
  • Speeds decision making

E-mail also makes it easy for professionals to keep up with upcoming events, make arrangements and appointments, and review and edit documents.  We should remember that e-mail is only one communication tool- e-mail can never replace the quality of face-to-face communication.

An e-mail should contain only important information.  Style, grammar, and substance are all important parts of professional e-mails, and should remain flawless.  Messages should be brief, blunt and easy to read.  E-mails should always be double checked before being sent.

A memo, or memorandum, is a brief written message that is usually photocopied and distributed to employees.  A memo can serve almost any communication purpose. A memo should be specific and to the point.  The key message should be found in the first paragraph. A memo’s format should contain these five elements:

  • Date
  • To:
  • From:
  • Subject
  • Message

Letters are not obsolete! Although e-mail is pervasive in today’s society, letter writing is a commonly thought of as a more formal or official type of communication.  As a PR professional, there are two types of letters we use:

  • Personal letters are written to a specific individual establishing dialogue between the sender and receiver.
  • Form letters are less personal letters are sent to large numbers of people concerning a specific issue, usually business related.

Letters can be written to ask information, give information, motivate, answer complaints, soothe or arouse, warn, admit or deny.  Letters carry just about any type of message.

Public relations firms usually acquire new business through the preparation of a proposal offering services to individuals or organizations.  Proposals usually include:

  • Background information
  • Client’s situation
  • Goals and objectives
  • Key messages
  • Basic strategies
  • General timeline of activities
  • Proposed budget
  • How success will be measured
  • Adescription of the team that will handle the account
  • Summary of why the firm should be chosen for the job.

Proposals should follow a logical and well organized format.  They are prepared to convince management to make a decision about  a contact or approve money and resources for a project.


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