Every business has been profoundly changed -- and improved -- by technology. The agency business has probably benefited more than most. But while technology has brought countless efficiencies to managing our businesses, it also has a dark side. E-mail, specifically, is a double-edge tool.
Much has been written about the pros and cons of e-mail. People receive too much of it on a daily basis. And that's with a spam filter. But what I'm concerned about is how I have observed so many talented people in small-to-mid-size agencies using e-mail for the wrong reasons. Below, some tips on how to handle e-mail:
- Always wait an hour before sending an e-mail when you are upset about the content of a creative brief, or revision to an ad, press release, web design, etc. That applies both internally and to a client. We've all sent emails in the heat of battle and often regretted doing so afterwards. Not worth all of the apologetic e-mails and calls you'll have to make later.
- Be careful not to get too comfortable managing a client relationship via the REPLY and SEND buttons. Get out of your office, get in a car and drive to see your client face to face. Nothing like it. Even in this digital age.
- Ditto for managing people in your own agency. I'm an admitted Crackberry addict, and find it easier to send an e-mail to my Brownstein Group colleague sitting in the office right next to me. When I do, I think, you lazy SOB -- get up and walk next door to talk! The good news is that I have been taking my own advice in recent months. I once heard that Stan Richards (Richards Group, Dallas) doesn't allow ANY internal email. People are actually forced to talk. Imagine that.
- Double check who you are replying to. How many times have you sent an e-mail about a sensitive, confidential issue to someone who was copied on the e-mail inadvertently? Agencies have lost clients by sending careless emails.
- Think twice about your form of communication. Will a phone call get the job done more effectively? Tone and manner simply cannot be properly conveyed on a keyboard.
- Never send ideas that you value in an e-mail in an attempt to present/sell a concept, headline, tagline, etc. Putting it in the editorial environment of an e-mail cheapens creativity, and devalues your idea. If you have to use technology to present an idea, set up a Live Meeting teleconference (it's a great tool, by Microsoft). It enables you to bring a PowerPoint presentation to life remotely, and strengthens your ability to sell-in the idea.