May 31, 2012

Manners in Email

Have you ever received an email from someone asking you for a favor or help in some way? Sure, probably from a friend right? What about from someone you have never met before? When you work in entertainment it tends to happen a lot. Random musicians who find your email listed online send you their "amazing" music and tell you all about how they are going to be the next big thing. People want you to forward something along to their favorite musicians. And on top of that, everyone wants a job or internship. With so many emails it's easy to understand why you may not get a response when you contact a music exec out of the blue to network or ask for help.

So, how the heck do you compete with all of that? And, you might be wondering, is there anything you can do to keep your reader from hitting "delete." Well, while no one can guarantee you a response, there are a few things you can do that will improve your chances.

Don't Include Unsolicited Files
If you receive a file from someone you don't know the word "virus" usually crosses your mind and you probably avoid opening it. The same goes for unsolicited files in the entertainment industry. If you weren't specifically told that it is okay (for example in a job posting) to send someone your music, press release, biography, resume, head shot, portfolio, demo, or whatever else, then do not include one. There is no faster way to get your email deleted (or sent directly to a spam folder) than to look like a virus. In fact, some companies email systems will not allow an email with an attachment if the sender if not pre-approved.

There are, for the record, ways around this that still allow you to include additional information and work samples. For instance, you can include a link to your website, SoundCloud file, or LinkedIn.

Use a Descriptive Title

If your email has a title that clearly conveys why you are writing, it can be easier for the person reading it to determine if they can help, have time for your email right now, or would like to come back to it later. For instance, if you are writing to apply for an internship, your email is far more likely to get moved into the appropriate folder and reviewed at a later time rather than just get lost in the shuffle of daily emails. If you are a musician sending music, describe your genre and sound (no I don't mean alternative rock band, be more specific) If you are applying for a specific job, say so in your email title.

Be Careful How You Address It 
This is the first thing someone will see once they open your email and it can quickly turn them off if it isn't polite or professional. Don't make a silly mistake like addressing a man as "mam," spelling a name wrong, or writing something like "Hey Katie, sup?"

Watch What You Say
Be sure that your message is clear, concise, and explains exactly why you are writing. Don't use text-message-style writing or abbreviations and don't use strange fonts or colors. Be polite, say thank you, and don't act like you are entitled to their time or attention.

What other tips do you have for writing professional, compelling emails?

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