Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Making sense of email.

In ancient times, papyrus, the preferred surface for writing was expensive. Even the alternative to papyrus, a clay tablet was costly. As a consequence, for financial reasons people were compelled to think before they sent someone a note.

Today, sending a note is, by all ostensible measures free. You no longer need paper, pen, an envelope and a stamp. You just dash it off (why even bother with proofreading--that's so archaic.) Therefore all of us get hundreds and hundreds of emails a day. Most of which we can't be bothered with because they impart no useful information.

As the "brand steward" of the client I work on, I am supposed to see everything that goes out that could impact the brand. i.e. I'm meant to make sure everything that goes to a network, even if it is as inconsequential as a video billboard doesn't look like shit.

So, the network people send me all the crap their creative departments create. Today I was cc'd on 42 separate emails. Including a few that read like this: "FYI, that code in the attachment, ALFI0043000 is actually already attached to a logo we already have on file, so it would probably be best to just create a new code and start fresh. Again, it can definitely start with ALFI, I think that makes perfect sense, as far as the numbers that come after, if you want to come up with something that’s fine, or I can definitely come up with something if you need. Let me know what you’d like to do, thanks."

If I ever start my own agency, or ever run one again, I will likely institute an hour or two of mandatory training on how to use email. The training will consist of just a few questions:

1. Is everything spelled correctly?
2. Will the content matter to the reader?
3. If action is required, have you stated so clearly with timing?
4. Do all the people receiving your email need to receive your email?

I think if people asked themselves these questions we could probably all leave work about two hours early.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree and would even suggest a similar course on reading an email. Too often we get a two-word response ten seconds after sending that completely misses the point.

We're in a rush to respond, like we are to create, and overall communication suffers.