Do Your Emails Reflect Your Company’s Brand?

To expose you to information beyond my expertise, I periodically ask someone to Guest Blog.  Today’s visiting expert is Dr. Julie Miller.  You can learn more about her at the end of the post.  Enjoy!

The blessing and the curse of the digital revolution! Between email, instant and text messaging, cellphones, Blackberries and the Internet, we are drowning in data overload. Moreover, the constant interruptions are costing the U. S. economy an estimated $558 billion annually. This staggering number does not add in the cost of poorly written emails that land companies and employees in hot legal trouble, destroy long-term client relationships, and ruin reputations.  Add to this mix a lack of civility and common sense and you have an explosive brew.

What to do? For starters, treat email writing as writing not as casual conversation. Whether words are written in the sky, sent by carrier pigeon or via the Web, words must connect with the reader. Good writing allows this to happen; poor writing does not.

Therefore, I would like to  recommend all companies—from multi-nationals to sole proprietors—develop email protocol. Simply stated it’s “the way we do business around here” in terms of communicating via email with co-workers and customers. It is a code of behavior, a set of standards as to how you will frame your words, manage your inbox, even extend your brand.

Below is a short list of questions to visit at your next meeting. Your answers are the beginning of a company-wide document.

1. How do you greet and close messages?
Companies are putting together a series of key phrases used solely for openings and closings. Remember, you would never call without greeting someone. Why would you not in your emails?

2.  What does your email signature say about your company?
It should be an extension of your company’s brand. Professional with no cutesy sayings, it should contain all contact information. Establish a standard for font style and size.

3.  What is the company policy around blind copies?
Some companies only use them for e-blasts; others say they are strictly verboten. Discuss why, when and how you use them.

4. Do you have a message for your out-of-office auto-responder?
How long away from the office before you turn the responder on? Four hours? One day?

5. How often do you check emails?
Some companies set their programs so emails are only called up hourly, thus reducing down time.

6.  How soon do you return emails?
Within four hours? By end of business day?

7.  Do you use emoticons?
Buzzing bees, dancing bears, smiley faces. I heartily rule against it.

8. How many emails before you pick up the phone?
The rule of thumb seems to be three. If the issues are not resolved, pick up the phone or walk down the hall.

Email has become the biggest productivity drain in businesses today. Getting a handle on this daily data dump by establishing procedures—etiquette if you will—will make you and your company stand above the crowd.

About the Author:

Dr. Julie Miller, founder and president of Business Writing That Counts!, is a national consultant and trainer who helps professionals reduce their writing time and produce powerful documents. She and her team of certified trainers work with executives who want to hone their writing skills and professionals who want to advance their careers.

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