Starting your email with “Hi there” when you write to CEOs of FTSE and NYSE listed companies, international governments ministers and Chairpersons of international organisations is very bad.
When you work for a Public Relations agency, one which is a pretty well known name, and you are expected to know how to address such high profile individuals and be polite and professional, your “hi there” is even worse.
What’s the worst of them all is that, almost surely, you’ve just deprived your PR agency of potentially 250 new business leads – since this is the number of high profile figures that badly phrased e-mail went to.
If you read this blog, if you work in Public Relations and Communication (including any and all of its sub-functions) and if you ever think of sending an e-mail like this to your clients or your clients’ clients, DON’T:
Hi there,Digital Account Manager
I am […], and I am writing to you from [AGENCY NAME]. We handle social media for the [EVENT]. On behalf of [SOMEONE UNKNOWN] and the rest of the [EVENT] team, my colleagues and I will send you some of our key posts twice a week. Please feel free to forward it to your social team to post or repost.
To begin, I am re-sharing a bank of social media creatives with captions, which you can post on your channel.
Please tag us on your posts.
Below are our social links:
Where do I begin with this mess?
A PR Agency’s Digital Account Manager will send the CEO/Minister/President or Chairman of these massive organisations “key posts twice a week” for them to forward to their “social team to post or repost“?
If you or I were any of these high profile individuals, what would we say? Would we say “what a lovely email“?
Would we say “oh, quickly, let’s see if this agency can do something for us“? Would we say “look how nice and polite these PR people are?”
I wouldn’t – I would actually make it my mission to send an e-mail to the Comms Director or VP of Corporate Affairs or Spokesperson of my organisation and make a point of the fact that this agency should never work for us.
If my boss (CEO/Chairman/Minister) had forwarded us (their most senior Comms persons, since I don’t think the CEO of a FTSE 100 knows who the members of their “social team” are) this email, what would we have done?
Would we have said “what a professional bunch of peers” or would we have said “what a disgrace for us all“?
Can the e-mail above be blamed on the Digital Account Manager’s incompetence alone? No, of course not.
This lack of professionalism, manners, understanding of the target audience and their expectations and so on is clearly a sign of bad leadership and inappropriate management support and training by this PR agency.
Has any individual in a leadership position seen and approved that e-mail before it went out? If they did, they are the ones who should be sacked and immediate action should be taken to ensure such a poor and unprofessional e-mail never leaves that agency again.
If you run a PR agency, if you work for a PR agency, if you own a PR agency, please remember that what you do as an organisation has an immediate reputational impact on the organisation overall, not just on the individual who sent out such an inappropriate e-mail.
The problem is, on this occasion, that I’ll be attending this event as a speaker. I’m going there to show the value, importance and impact strategic Public Relations has and can have, why what we do matters enormously, why we should be believed and trusted, and why our advice needs to be heeded.
And when e-mails such as this one are sent to prove me wrong even before I get a chance to open my mouth to argue my case, how badly are we, as an industry, shooting ourselves in the foot?