3 Simple Email Etiquette Rules to Remember Even When You Are Busy

I send and receive lots of emails every week, working in public relations means that it is a daily activity, in fact most professional service based work means that emails are central to communication. Whether you are working in an office as a career professional or you are building your own business, emails are important and email etiquette is crucial. Social media is great but emails are the most conventional way of maintaining a standard flow of prompt communication outside of telephone calls. I, for one, am not a fan of social media direct messages which should be emails unless the messages are via LinkedIn. Having to send emails frequently and obviously understanding the value of building strong relationships, has taught me the value of email etiquette. We have all been caught out at least once, either sending an email which has been misconstrued/reflects our tense reaction or receiving an email that is abrupt or curt. I understand that we can have tough days, I also understand that things aren’t always rosy behind the screen. I tend not to match poor manners with a bad response as I choose to uphold a professional (and honest) response but that does not negate the fact that it can be very annoying.

Here are a few of my own basic email etiquette rules to use even when you’re busy:

Think about the tone of your message – in a digital age, tone matters. I have seen social media misunderstandings being exacerbated into full on online disagreements because of what could be deemed as a misunderstanding based on tone. We are all wired differently so you really have to take the time to consider how your message will be received based on the intention that you are sending it. Just spend a few moments to read the email you’re about to send back to yourself. Would you be happy with the tone of it if it were being sent to you? If yes send it. If the answer is no just take a moment to fix it. Are you intentionally using the email to express your emotions? If so really take the time to think about why? I.e. Do you want an apology? Do you feel disrespected? If that is the case your feelings might be valid but remember that not everyone has the same attitude as you do and you should think about whether your email will actually lead to a resolution or if it will cause even more problems.  Remember that emails are very different from telephone calls or face to face meetings, this should be common sense but I really need people to understand. With vocal or physical communication we can sense tone through certain obvious cues such as voice pattern changes and body language, but when we read things in print our minds might react differently to words because we have no other cues but our own preconceptions. So take the time to consider this when sending an email or a response that could lead to a misunderstanding.

3 Simple Email Etiquette Rules to Remember Even When You're Busy

Greetings matter – How you address people really matters in emails. Know when it is the right context to use “Hi”, “Hello” and “Dear” – most times the latter 2 greetings are absolutely fine in a professional setting (most prefer “Dear” in very formal settings. Use “Hi” only if the person you are sending the message to is a good contact and you email each other frequently. Know and understand your boundaries whenever you send an email to anyone. You should also ensure that you do everything in your power to make sure you get the spelling of a person’s name right. Once in a while the keyboard critters can mess up your flow and cause a typo or an auto-correct mistake but even if that is the case make sure you apologise as soon as you spot it (if you do). But just make an effort to greet people with respect and courtesy in an email. That is the very least that you can do when it comes to email etiquette.

Email Etiquette

Don’t fan the flames – If you’re reading this it is very likely that you’re human unless the robots have taken over the planet. Being human means that you have your own set of emotions and you are going through things, you might be busy, stressed, tired, unwell or any of the things can put pressure on us. If you receive an email that annoys you or if you’re having a bad day just do your very best not to fan the flames and cause you more unnecessary stress. Emails leave a digital footprint so if things escalate in the inbox there will always be a paper trail. Think about how you want to resolve an issue and most importantly stay focused on the intention of your response. At the end of the day your email is being sent with a purpose, so really take the time to focus on the purpose and don’t get caught up in pettiness. If you need to take the time before responding to an email which you perceive as being rude/impolite, take a few moments to breath and even ask someone to read the email before you really need to send a response. At the end of the day try your best not to take things personally, if you need to clarify anything just pick up the phone but don’t allow negativity to override your progress.

I hope this piece helps you and please share your own email etiquette tips and experiences below.

Let Go if You Want to Grow in Business

This is some business advice for those of you who keep trying to do EVERYTHING yourselves in business.
If you want to grow you need to be willing to outsource, you have to be willing to invest and spend money.
Your business cannot survive if you’re doing every single thing. You need to let go if you want to grow in business.

This means hiring people who can help you to do the work you can’t do so that you can do more of the work that will grow your business. Even if you CAN do the work why would you want to spend every moment of your time working on the micro elements of your business when your skills and talents give you scope to do so much more!

Far too many business owners struggle with letting go when it comes to growing their businesses. For example when it comes to hiring staff, the issue of mistrust and knowing what’s best comes up a lot but without a willingness to give new talent a chance business owners can work themselves into exhaustion or miss out on new opportunities to grow.

Share your thoughts and experiences and let GO!

Why Stirring Up Black Outrage is Not a Strategic Marketing Ploy

I was scrolling through my favourite social media platform recently (if you don’t know what that is then you really haven’t been paying attention and I feel offended) and I came across some sentiments that are really starting to perturb me. Some people have begun to believe that brands are purposefully stirring up black outrage as part of a wider marketing campaign to get more brand attention and other people are believing what those people are telling them.

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As we know this year has been a year of PR disasters for major brands, from Pepsi to Dove these brands with multi-billion pound budgets have made nonsensical missteps when it comes to their advertising campaigns. These missteps have led to social media users voicing their outrage/concern/confusion/bemusement and for the brands to backtrack, take stock and usually issue a standard apology. The latest in this series of missteps is the Muller Rice’s latest advertising campaign featuring rapping bears:

When I initially saw this on TV I was actually shocked into silence, not only because it was steeped in awful, tacky stereotypes but it was a clunky, corny advert for what should be a basic product. This is not the first time that Muller Rice has used rap to sell its cereal/rice pudding/oats concoction, a couple of years ago they used Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby for an advert and it worked – it wasn’t racialised, it was a bear rapping to a remix of a song about rice pudding. It worked. It wasn’t too much it was just enough:

But unfortunately they had to take it too far with their latest advert. Remember Robert Downey Jr’s risky parodic (problematic but they knew it) role in Tropic Thunder when he tells Ben Stiller’s character to never take it TOO FAR when you’re going into character that is essentially what Muller Rice did with their latest advert. They took it too far.

Advertising, Marketing, Sales, PR are all part of the same family in that ultimately they want to keep consumers happy enough to stay loyal to a brand and keep a brand making money or keep a brand popular. Advertising is a visual form of communication that is designed to promote a product/service and to encourage people to spend their money on that product or service. Marketing in its purest form aims to inform consumers about a brand through a series of activities that build awareness which includes advertising campaigns (but is not exclusive to advertising).  So if an advert does not do a good job consumers will either stop trusting the brand or choose not to spend money with the brand. The worst case scenario is if the advert offends then the brand reputation and credibility of the brand is put into question and a PR disaster occurs as the subsequent relationship with consumers is diminished and trust is lost.

So here we come to the crux and purpose of this piece.

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When advertising departments/agencies get their content signed off by major brands the intention is to improve brand awareness, build brand loyalty and ultimately improve sales but if you end up offending an entire group of potential customers this will not happen. Black outrage is not part of this equation, it does not serve as some kind of hidden agenda to get people to pay attention to the brand. The insensitive/offensive/misjudged adverts simply make brands look ridiculous and out of touch and highlights that either there are not enough diverse/inclusive teams in these companies or that any “minority” staff in those teams are not given adequate positions of influence or power to block these missteps.

When these adverts come to light black outrage is not a driver for improved brand reputation and increased sales, it is not a marketing ploy. Black outrage in and of itself is a powerful tool to make these brands pay attention and whilst I understand that it has been used by media platforms for click bait tactics, it is does not work the same way in business. This is why social media has become such a driver for social change, without it we would continue to see brands overlook tangible diversity and inclusion and maintain a lack of social awareness. Why do you think so many of the major make up brands have only really started to up their game since the launch of Fenty Beauty, black outrage turned into black action, with black consumers becoming tired of being invisible in the product lines and adverts of these brands.

Black women turned their outrage at being consistently let down by brands like L’Oreal into consumer spending power not only making money for Fenty Beauty but also making money for other brands that pay attention and respect black people and black money.

When a brand lets you down, you stop buying from that brand (money is the only language that any business understands – great piece by glossy on this) or you make an effort to look for alternatives. If you cannot boycott the brand, e.g. Dove is owned by Unilever which pretty much has products in every aspect of our lives so it would be pretty difficult (not impossible) to boycott Unilever. You can shift your attention to independent, smaller businesses and bless them with your money and use your outrage to empower fresh dynamic brands.

Your voice has power!

Your spending power is important!

Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

I fear that by people believing the ideology that the creation of black outrage stirred up by these brands is some kind of strategic marketing ploy will silence many, encouraging them to ignore and overlook these missteps. Now is not the time to be silent though, now is not the time to turn a blind eye. Collective noise and action in whatever form, be that through social media or elsewhere is a powerful tool for the under-represented. Do not give these brands a pass, keep speaking up when they mess up, shame them into doing better because we all deserve better, not only when we’re spending our money but in life in general.

Bonus!
Watch this dinner discussion I had for #CookTalk with AngryBlackWunmi where we discussed this intricacies of this topic.