Sometimes we overlook one of the most powerful PR tools in our toolbox. While we grapple with emerging technologies and content-hungry social media feeds, we forget that sometimes writing a good letter is the most effective way to communicate. And yes, I’m talking letters on paper sent via snail mail. Letters are respectful, laser-targeted, and you know that the person you address it to will probably read it. Something you can’t say about most social media messages.
Since letter writing is quickly becoming a lost art, below are some tips for writing an effective one. If you follow my 3 C’s, you can’t go wrong.
Make your audience feel comfortable reading your letter. This requires having a good knowledge of your audience and adapting your writing style accordingly. Try and use language they are familiar with and don’t be overly formal. Even written business letters have been affected by the informality of the ubiquitous email. The most important thing is to ensure that your reader feels that you know and care about them, whether the letter is sent to one person or thousands. Address each one individually and if at all possible sign by hand.
Don’t beat around the bush. Include the most important information at the beginning, both to (hopefully) interest the reader, but also to ensure that your most important messages are read. Of course, avoid jargon and clichés, and use clear language. Clarity in a letter is also helped by being concise. Don’t use three words when one word will do. It just makes your writing seem labored and stilted. Feel free to use bullet points to break up large pieces of text and/or to draw attention to the most important information.
Develop your letter to its fullest extent by including opportunities to engage your reader. Provide information so they can contact you directly, find out information on your website or social media pages, or provide feedback. Include all your contact information and anything you might want to include for their future reference. Perhaps the best thing about a letter is that they are usually kept and filed, unlike digital communications that are too easily passed over and lost in a melee of information.
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