Six Quick Rules for E-Mail Etiquette

By Published on .

Marc Brownstein Marc Brownstein
I can't imagine managing an agency 15 years ago. Before the internet. Before setting type and doing layouts on your desktop. Before e-mailing your client and staff.

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.
Hope the above is helpful. Consider them lessons from the agency battlefield.
Most Popular
In this article: