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An Outreach Message That Failed

What do you think of this email I received?

From: [I made up the address.]
To: Undisclosed Recipients [That phrase filled the To line.]
Subject: Writing Skills training

I was referred to you by a colleague at Boeing.

I conduct business communication workshops and am looking for partnering opportunities in the Seattle area. Please let me know if you are taking on additional trainers or can provide referrals.

Thank you.

David Blake   [I have disguised this information.]
Communications Company
Chicago, Illinois

How do you feel about the message?

It disappointed me. If this person had taken just five minutes to personalize his message, I would have phoned or emailed him within a day to talk about his experience and interests. We might have begun a mutually rewarding business relationship. But as it was, I could barely keep the sarcasm out of my "Thanks but no thanks" reply. I wanted to write, "Thank you for including me in your list of undisclosed recipients," but my husband reminded me that I am a better person than that.

Here is what "David" should have done:

  1. Send an individual email to me–not to a mailing list.
  2. Greet me "Dear Lynn."
  3. Name the colleague at Boeing, if there is one. If there isn't one, then tell me why he has chosen me to contact.
  4. Tell me something exciting about his background that would get me interested in him.
  5. Give me the URL for his website. (He has a perfectly fine website that I tracked down–he did not even mention it!)
  6. Provide a phone number.

I don't know why David even bothered sending out such an unimpressive message. Do you?

If you have friends who are looking for a job or a consulting opportunity, please remind them that bland, blanket messages are worse than useless. They frustrate, disappoint, and turn off readers.

Thanks for spreading the word.

Syntax Training

Posted by Avatar photo
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

5 comments on “An Outreach Message That Failed”

  • Dear Lynn,
    It certainly isn’t a good advertisement of his skills as a business communications expert! I think it was very kind of you to reply at all.

  • Lynn,

    I just received the following email and after reading your post, I thought is was appropriate to share with you. It is poorly written and doesn’t get to the point in the beginning.

    At ABC Company, we are always looking to do a better job of staying connected to and serving our customers. And, as important issues arise or we have information that can benefit our customers, we want you to know about it. That’s why you have received this message via e-mail. We will work hard to continue delivering you these updates.
    Today, more and more families are concerned about keeping up with expenses in a difficult economy. So ABC Company gives customers the power to manage their energy bills with a wider range of payment options, including: (then they went on to list payment options)

  • Becky, thank you for sharing an excellent example of not getting to the point. I bet that most readers deleted the message without knowing what it was about.

  • yes right information you posted. i want to share information on Undisclosed recipients on which i used yahoo mail for sending mails to recipient.

Comments are closed.