The Tiny Little Things You Might Oversee
|Some need to start writing from scratch… literally! (Source: Internet)|
Of course, I’m not an expert at writing in English. It’s not even my first language. On top of that, I was never formally trained to write in English nor did I graduate from a TESL Programme. I have always loved learning the language since I was young and slowly I start to write more and more in English. I guess it began when I was in high school when I was selected by the teachers to join the editorial board for the school magazine. I wrote a couple of short stories and poems, just to fill up the English section.
You see, our school Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Taman Melati in Setapak was not a very popular school back then. Honestly, I don’t even know if it’s popular now. There were whispers of local celebrities attending that school, but I don’t like to kiss and tell. *wink*
So you can imagine why I had to help the teachers with the English Section of the magazine. There weren’t that many of us who could write in English well. Besides, I was always one of those over-achievers who just had to score 100% during English tests and exams. I was so obsessed, the bullies at my school called me Shikin London which was pretty dumb because if they had listened to me carefully, I spoke American English having spent years of watching and learning from American TV. I only spoke British English during oral tests so that I could pass with flying colours.
|When my teachers told me to watch more of this… (Source: Internet)|
|I watched more of this… (Source: Internet)|
|Yes, there’s Yiddish and all, but I enjoyed it anyway! (Source: Internet)|
|And this… aaaaaaahhhh! (Source: Internet)|
Anyway, remember back in the days when our English syllabus taught us a certain way of writing a formal letter, with the specific format and language. There was the address at the top, followed by the date and yes, the famous salutation of ‘Dear Sir/Madam‘, sounds familiar?
Well, yes, we were all trained with the same format of writing for many, many, many years. Plus many more years. Although the syllabus that we learned had somewhat laid the foundation of writing for most of us, then there is college, but I still didn’t think it was enough nor was it quite relevant once we join the real world.
|Surprisingly, even now I still need to crack my head when
writing letters and emails (Source: Internet)
In fact, I’m actually quite surprised that we do not really give proper training to students on how best to write formal letters or emails particularly to the Human Resources or Public Relations Department of a company. I mean, back during my UiTM time, I was actually quite lucky to have attended several graduate courses on writing. Still, I didn’t think it was enough because I learn more and more along the way.
To tell the truth, I don’t mean to diss anyone, I just think the Malaysian syllabus might be a little outdated because I keep seeing the same format from fresh graduates who actually made an effort to write a proper letter or email. Yes, I understand they didn’t have exposure, but would it kill to FOR ONCE use Google for a good cause? I mean, back then we didn’t have Internet or WiFi as extensive as we have now, and I still made an effort to go to the Internet Cafe to look for some samples of formal letters. Trust me, back then, you could barely find a decent one.
Never mind the numerous replicas I’ve received, at least again, may I stress here that at least they made an effort. Since I’ve started working in Public Relations two years ago, I’ve been bombed with many, many letters and emails that make me want to meet the senders in real life and just punch them in the faces! Yes, as brutal as that sound, you have nooooo idea what I have to face on a daily basis.
|It will take some time but making an effort to write a good letter/email
comes with great rewards (Source: Internet)
Let me share some of the worst emails I’ve encountered and tell me if any of these sounds familiar.
Okay, you’re sending an official email to the PR of the company and you didn’t put a subject. Surprisingly, even people who have years of experience do this too by mistake.
As tiny as the mistake might appear, it doesn’t look good on the recipient. It appears just like any other spam that we receive everyday. Most people will simply ignore emails like that.
The nicer ones including yours truly when she’s in a good mood; will at least glance at it. However, pass mal auf when I decide to reply with some notes in it too. It doesn’t mean that I care about your email, it simply means that I’m actually pissed off. Haha!
So, what should you do when you realized that you’ve sent an email without a subject? Just resend and don’t forget to apologize. We PRs are used to receiving crappy emails, an apology with resend will turn our days around.
|Email is a very convenient way to communicate on professional basis
This is another email that gives me a heart attack. Many a time, senders only attach a presentation or information but not the contents. And surprisingly, these people are the ones who want something from our company; sponsorship, media coverage and so on.
So, with only attachment and nothing else, what am I supposed to do? Read your mind telepathically? If people ask, why can’t I just download the attachment and go through the details?
My answer is simple, why should I? You’re the one who sent me the email, so it means that you want something from me. The least you could do is, make an effort and get your message across.
Once, I’ve received a Whatsapp text from an acquaintance asking whether or not the company I’m working for can sponsor one of their events. I told him to send me an email with details. Yes, he did. With only a subject and an attachment, no contents. Considering he was an acquaintance and because his wife also texted me to remind me of their proposal, I replied and asked for a more formal email with details. Later, the guy just Whatsapped me with this message, “Everything is in the attachment“.
And that was when I clicked on the BIG BLACK X that says ‘Delete’. Honestly, I didn’t need it. It was disrespectful and the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility fund was better spent elsewhere.
|I don’t mind if you whatsapp me on professional matters
if you’re one of my close friends,
but I still need an official email (Source: Internet)
Since I started working in Public Relations, I’m actually surprised that many, many people see me as their personal piggy bank; thinking that they can just email me to squeeze funds out to finance their activities.
Yes, true, most companies have set aside a certain amount of money for Corporate Social Responsibility activities. This fund is more for branding purposes, a way to show the public that a company cares about the community around their business. Most of the time, CSR projects don’t bring much monetary returns to the company. Still, as a company that runs a business, a CSR project is expected to bring in some tangible and intangible returns.
So considering the possibility of receiving a little portion of this fund, surely people ought to write to impress. Put yourself in our shoes, who would you give it to?
Would you give it to a stranger who wrote something like this…?
“Hi, Paris, I’m XXX’s friend. Hope you’re in a good mood, huhu. TQ!“
So, you tell me!
|May I remind you, a Public Relations is not your piggy bank.
He or she is responsible for the company’s CSR fund as well.
And Your Point Is…?
Most of the time, when I receive emails from people, I actually have to go through the emails over and over again just to find the main point of contact. Some emails are just toooo lengthy, particularly, ahem, excuse me, those written in Malay. Is it me or am I being judgemental, I just find formal emails/letters written in Malay are just exhaustingly long.
It got me wondering, how should I react to it?
And then, there’s the nonsensical ones that don’t appeal to me at all. Most of them are written in a narcissistic manner. When I say narcissistic, I do mean, it’s all about you, you, you. What about me and my company? Where do we come in?
|Trust me, you don’t want to bore your recipient before
he or she finishes reading your email/letter (Source: Internet)
I’ve got so much to share! Why don’t we meet and discuss this again soon?
See you in the next confession!
All my love, XOXO,