I Heard It From The PR Girl

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

Posted in Reading Notes by laurynwilliams on April 14, 2010

PR writers are major contributors to information clutter, because their jobs involve the dissemination of so many messages.

“Writers waste too much time producing texts that waste even more time for readers.”  – Richard Neff, consultant in Belgium and writer for the Communication World


“colleague spam” – Wall Street Journal‘s term for when your friends send you the latest joke or the cool video from YouTube

What E-mail does:

  1. reduces the cost of employee communications
  2. increases the distribution of messages to more employees
  3. flattens the corporate hierarchy
  4. speeds decision making

It is effective in

  1. making arrangements and appointments
  2. keeping up with events
  3. reviewing or editing documents

E-mail is not suitable for all person-to-person communication, because it is an informal memo system. Sometime it is best to send a formal letter.

The content of an e-mail should represent you as you want to be seen. Every written communication should be flawless, showing you best work. Think twice about writing something that would be embarrassing to you if the sender decides to forward it to any number of other individuals. Management has the ability and legal right to read your e-mail messages, even if you erase them. There are suggestions about the contest of an e-mail message on page 390 of  Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th Ed.).

E-mail Format:

  1. Subject line
  2. Salutation
  3. First Sentence or Paragraph (get to the bottom line)
  4. Body of Message (20-25 lines; single spaced; no more than 65 characters per line)
  5. Closing


Today the standard method of delivery is e-mail for most routine memos.

They can…

  • ask for information
  • supply information
  • confirm a verbal exchange
  • ask for a meeting
  • schedule or cancel a meeting
  • remind
  • report
  • praise
  • caution
  • state a policy
  • perform any other function that requires a written message

Many public relations firms require staff to write a memo when there is a client meeting, because it creates a record of what was discussed and what decisions were made. When writing a memo be specific about what you mean to say. Do not be too vague or give the reader too much useful information.

5 Elements of a Memo:

  1. date
  2. to
  3. from
  4. subject
  5. message

There is an example of a memo’s format on page 324 in Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th Ed.).


Letters are printed on paper and are sent via snail mail. They require a  more systematic approach to writing and formatting a message. It is written primarily to individuals when a more formal response is required.

2 Kinds of Letters:

  • Personalized Letter – sent to a specific individual and s the most personal form of letter writing, because a one-on-one dialogue is established between the sender and the recipient.
  • Form Letter – sent to a large number of people about a specific situation. They are often written by PR staff and signed by the head of the organization. They usually give background or an update on a situation affecting the company and a particular public.

Complain Letters include:

  • Thanking the customer for writing
  • Apologizing for any inconvenience
  • Replacing the product or providing a coupon for future purchases

Content of a Letter:

  1. The first paragraph is the most important part of any letter. It should concisely state th purpose of the letter or tell the reader the “bottom-line.”
  2. The second and succeeding paragraphs can elaborate on the details and give relevant information.
  3. The final paragraph should summarize the important details, and let the person know you will telephone them with further details or resolutions.

 See page 347 for format of a letter. (Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th Ed.))


PR firms ususally get new business through he preparation of a proposal offering services to an organization. A client may issue a RPF (request for proposal), and circulate it to various PR firms.

Typical PR Proposal May Contain…

  • the background and capabilities of the firm
  • the client’s situation
  • goals and objectives of the proposed program
  • key messages
  • basic strategies and tactics
  • general timeline of activities
  • proposed budget
  • how success will be measured
  • description of the team that will handle the account
  • a summary of why the firm should be selected to implement the program

Possible Subjects of a Proposal:

  • to move the office
  • to adopt a 10-hour workday or 4-day workweek
  • to provide a child-care facility at the plant
  • to modify the employee benefit plan
  • etc.

See page 399 for the purpose and organization of a proposal. (Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th Ed.))

All material here is quoted or paraphrased from Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th Ed.)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: