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BA Graphic Communication – Professional Skills Module E-communication; 8th December 2009 – annotated version 1. You and email (10 minutes to do, 5 to discuss, 5 for class feedback) Answer these question clusters individually (be brief), then discuss your answers at your table for a couple of minutes. Sample answers are SJW’s. 1. How long have you used email and what is your main access point e.g. home computer, mobile phone? How many addresses do you now have?

Since 1987! I was an early adopter via a bond market research job with an American company. Access points home PC and work. Two ‘private’ addresses, one work address.

2. Do you have a folder system in your email account(s)? Does this include ‘rules’ whereby all the email from, say, one person, is automatically directed into a folder on arrival?

I use directed folders on all accounts. It’s a vital technique for prioritising email, especially from my team and important contacts.

3. How often do you ‘house-keep’ e.g. junking old email and any spam which has leaked through?

Not often enough! At work I’m often prompted by the mail-box full message and resort to the cheat’s solution of deleting by size i.e. biggest first. Try where possible to operate an ‘open it, deal with it, file/delete it’ technique but frenetic deadlines get in the way.

4. Do you know (a) the size of your mail-box(es) and (b) what your account search function can retrieve e.g. emails from specific addresses, keywords etc.

Size on private accounts is unlimited, work account is a woeful 25Mb. Search functions on work account quite good i.e. can pick up any match, just subject lines, addresses etc. Search function does not go into the archive – this is frustrating if you have a substantial email history.

5. Which of your email addresses would you use to write to a potential employer?

Current work address – it’s an .ac.uk domain and proves that I work in public education.

6. How often do you check your email? Do you use messaging on Facebook in preference to emailing friends?

Private email usually daily – try to go in just once. Work comes in all the time – sometimes switch it off to avoid distraction.

7. You open an email from a stranger. It’s not spam. Look at the factors below. Put an  next to the factors which would cause you to stop reading and delete the email. All these factors irritate me! Have you got any others which you would like to add?

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An attachment which is large, slow-loading, not clearly named, or which you cannot open. Irritating or jokey salutation e.g. Howdy! Use of swearwords or slang. Use of SMS text language abbreviations such as u, lol, omg, xxx at the end. Spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes. All text in capitals, bold or italics (or all three!). All text in lowercase. 8. Order the following according to your preference for making and receiving written communication: posted letter, text-messaging by mobile phone, email, messaging via social networking site.

Subject line is irrelevant or meaningless. Message in one block; no paragraph breaks. Uncomfortably small, or inappropriately large, font size. A fussy, or childish font e.g. Comic Sans MS. Use of decorated virtual ‘stationery’. The email is last in a long, repeatedly forwarded chain. It feels like you have to scroll down 15 feet of screen to reach the original email. Email, text-messaging, posted letter, messaging via social networking site.

Comments on task 1. How you deal with email says a lot about how you value it as communication e.g. do you run a ‘document’ based system, where you deal with and file items, according to a routine, or do you just deal with emails ad hoc? Most people would acknowledge that email and e-communication are now the hydraulic fluid of business and anybody without e-communication skills is functionally illiterate in the commercial and education environment. Yet neither schools nor universities actively teach e-communication or screen writing skills, or e-communication management, assuming that students will just learn by osmosis. People rarely send printed letters these days, yet this skill is still widely taught (look at the Key Stage syllabuses). Typing is almost never actively taught in schools. This banal skill would vastly improve most people’s experience of e-communication, speeding up their ability to write on screen, encouraging better flow and accuracy. There is still stigma attached to being able to type, harking back to the days when the people at the bottom of the office heap were (female) secretaries and assistants. Sadly, many students – and not just older ones (this is a stereotype!) – avoid using email. Texting is poor man’s email and, while convenient amongst friends, will not work for serious projects like getting a job.

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2. Anatomy of an email (3 minutes to do, 5 for class feedback) Here’s a screenshot of an internal UWIC email. Where you see arrows, label the component parts.

Recipients’ addresses. Would be much neater as a user group e.g. PGCTHE participants.

Message body. Brief; details put in attachment.

Clear subject line with date and essential information.

Small attachment with clear file label.

Salutation appropriate to group of colleagues.

Closing salutation and signature. Level of formality should reflect relationship with recipients. Signature. Should be standard on all professional emails. However, try to avoid multi-line versions. They can look over-whelming or pompous.

There’s nothing wrong with this email, but how could it be improved aesthetically? Reduce recipients to a named group if the system permits; redistribute signature on a couple of lines.

Comments on task 2. The little things like ‘Dear’ and ‘Regards’ may seem trivial but even amongst close colleagues they are signals of recognition, appreciation and consideration. If an email is not addressed to you (it is person to person communication, even if the recipients are a group) it doesn’t belong to you; similarly an unsigned email doesn’t belong to the sender. Your identity is not the same as an email address. Emails without salutations, names, or even subject lines are abrupt, rude and alienating. Missing out a subject line will relegate your email to spam/junk on some systems, and rightly lead to it being ignored, especially by high volume recipients. There’s nothing wrong with ‘talking’ by email, if you know the recipient well e.g. “Nick, I think we need to shift the meeting back to avoid clashing with the demonstration.” In a large organisation such as a university with standardised email naming, it is likely that several people will have similar email addresses. Using names helps avoid confusion.

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3. Salutations, greetings, modes of address, subject lines (5 minutes to do, 5 for class feedback)

Give examples of the above which you would use with:

A lecturer who is well known to you. Salutation/greeting: Hi, Good morning. Dear. Mode of address: Christian name, Dr., Professor. If recipient has asked to be called by a title, use it. Subject line: be very very specific but do not start the email in the subject line (this is a common mistake). If you are in a large group, use your student number. Closing salutation, regards, best wishes, and your first name.

The Vice-Chancellor of UWIC. Dear Vice Chancellor, Dear Professor Chapman. Closing salutation, regards. Spell out your name in full.

Your local MEP, MP or AM. Check title on Welsh Assembly or House of Commons website. If recipient has title e.g. Sir, use it with the correct form e.g. Dear Sir John. Use formal end salutation e.g. Yours sincerely, and state your name in full.

Prospective employer with whom you have had a phone conversation. Dear plus first name unless a formal relationship has been indicated. Use a formal salutation such as regards, or with best wishes, and state your name in full.

Prospective employer for whom this is the first contact. Dear plus formal title such as Ms./ Mr. If you know only the job title e.g. Human Resources Officer, use the title. Subject line should name vacant position and job code: if responding to an advert, state the job as in the advert. Use a formal salutation such as regards, with best wishes, and state your name in full.

A group email to your colleagues in a small firm. Dear all, Hi all, if a very small and friendly group you know well, Hi Guys. If a group of less than four, use names. Closing salutation: regards, best, cheers (for a well-known group).

A group/administrator email to your colleagues in a large organisation. Dear Colleagues, Kind Regards, Best Wishes, your full name and job title.

Comments on task 3. All of the above recipients should be written to in standard English. Basic contractions are acceptable, but you must use conventional spelling, punctuation and layout.

Š UWIC Academic Skills team, December 2009

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4. Email frame 1 (5 minutes to do, 5 for group feedback) Information text for Email frame 1 – this was read out in class for the reasons below: You are working for a small consultancy – say 4-5 staff in partnership. You take a phonecall out of the blue from a marketing representative from UWIC. The imminent university name change is a great chance for a brand/image makeover, and would you or your company be interested in pitching for an image consultancy contract to cover a new logo, and redesigns of key publications such as the prospectus. You are invited to an open meeting in two days’ time to get more details of the tender. The representative would like an email from your consultancy commenting on three areas of UWIC’s current branding image which you and your company colleagues could improve, and what you would do. The new university title is likely to be The City University of Cardiff or Cardiff City University. You don’t need to tell the representative anything about your consultancy – one of the reasons she rang was she has looked in detail at your website. Draft the email, which your colleagues will see before it goes out. It should not exceed 150 words. To: Name of representative Did you check this, and her job title, on the phone? cc: Other members of your consultancy – a good way of introducing their names.  No attachments! Unless you can get a piece of artwork done in time. Re: Proposed new logo and image for UWIC Dear (use first name of representative) Thank you for considering our firm for your new logo project. As you requested when we spoke this morning, reference to conversation we have looked at your website and literature. There are the areas where our team could effect the best change. 1. Logo This is currently the distinctive acronym word UWIC. Both proposed new titles should be kept in their entirety: they do not make natural words and are easily confused with similar ones. We recommend integrating the full title and motto “The most valuable possession is knowledge” in a distinctive banner logo. 2. Corporate colours The black, white and pink theme on the present website … We look forward to meeting you on Thursday. Worth asking too if you can bring another colleague – there’s nothing like two attending a meeting; one to talk, one to take notes. With best wishes, Name Consultancy signature

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Comments on task 4. Instructions were given orally to simulate the situation of responding to a phone call. Emails often refer to phonecalls and vice versa. It is also crucial that you get the key points of information: comment on three UWIC branding areas you could improve, get the email in before the meeting, assume that the email will be referred to in the meeting, and take account of the two possible names. Your recipient knows everything about the consultancy on the website. Information text for Email frame 2 – this was read out in class for the reasons below: You are the other consultancy members; respond to your colleague’s suggestions.

5. Email frame 2 (5 minutes to do, 5 for group feedback) To: cc:  Re: Contents here depend on the ‘email’ you are responding to. However, this is a prime candidate for intersected text – just make sure it’s in a different colour!

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6. 20 Email DOs and DON’Ts (15 minutes to do, 5 for group feedback) Agree these lists in your group. These are in no particular order – hundreds of ‘netiquette’ lists like this can be found online. Dos

Don’ts

1 Use a meaningful subject line with keywords which could later be searched for successfully.

Use SMS/text abbreviations to anybody except your close friends and family.

2 Use an informative signature – in a large organisation it’s better to have an internal and external signature.

Use emoticons in formal emails.

3 Put the most important information in the first line/sentence (remember the ‘hot space’ at the top of the screen, and how the screen ‘cools’ the further down you go.

Don’t put important information in the scroll zone at the bottom of the screen. If you are proving a point, state your point first, then prove it, even if the temptation is otherwise.

4 Run the spell-checker – if the email is very important, consider writing in Word then copying and pasting.

Add large attachments, especially media files. Provide a link to a website, online portfolio, document sharing system etc. If you must send a big attachment, it’s a good idea to warn or ask permission first.

5 Include correct titles and salutations. This is a must.

Forward emails to entire address books unless it’s your close friends. Even then, consider what you usually do with mass-forwarded emails.

6 Use a clean, easy to read font (true type) in a sensible size i.e. 12. Most email set-ups now accept .html or smart text, but keep it simple if you do e.g. bullets can turn into utter garble in plain text versions.

Forward chain emails – even amongst friends this is bad practice as you are circulating possibly 100s of email addresses to potential spammers and unknown recipients. Unintended information may also be exchanged by mistake.

7 Consider carefully what information you put in emails. Any email can be forwarded without you knowing about it. If you need to send secure information, put it in a passworded document and independently phone through the password.

Forward emails without explaining why they are important or of interest. Don’t FYI – say why! If in doubt about forwarding an email, ask permission from the sender first.

8 Deal with one issue per email where possible.

Use fussy, space-wasting ‘stationery’.

9 Use headings! Yes, headings are wonderful in emails, especially longer ones.

Write in large blocks of text – try to keep paragraphs to a maximum of 5-6 lines.

10 Respond with intersected text i.e. taking segments or quotations from the first email. However, you still need to use opening and closing salutations. Don’t make abrupt comments – talk to your recipient as a person e.g. “You’ve got a great point here but how about including …”

Use an email for the contents of what should be an attachment i.e. a meeting agenda. This is especially true if you want your recipient to print off the attachment and use it.

11 Use language that recognises your recipient as human. Back to the magic ‘you’ word again. However, do not constantly repeat a Christian name (think how annoying you find this in advertising emails).

Write in capital letters. This is the internet grammar for shouting.

12 Say what your attachment(s) are about . If sending

Write entirely in lowercase, or without punctuation. This

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drafts and versions of the same document, add a suffix to the filename such as v.1, v.2 so your recipient doesn’t mix it up, or overwrite earlier information.

is not the opposite to shouting; it just looks lazy.

13 Remember that in certain areas of law, emails are admissible as evidence. They are notorious in employment tribunal cases!

Use an unconventional font colour. Pink and orange are awful to read against a white background.

14 Know your recipient. Don’t bombard with emails at busy times or send follow-ups too quickly e.g. demanding a decision on short-listing one day after a job-submission date.

Start the message in the subject line, or connect them with … marks. This is fine for close friends but not in a professional context!

15 Make sense. If you indicate there will be six areas covered, make it six areas.

Waffle.

16 If you make a mistake (we are all human) and forget an attachment, send the same email with attachment included at the end of the original subject line. Nothing is more confusing than similar versions of the same thing.

Be abrupt. Even if responding to a series of emails like a conversation, do not resort to expressions such as ‘OK’. Say instead: “I agree with your decision and we should go ahead.” Don’t forget that emails can be useful evidence if a later decision is challenged. If you write OK, it’s OK to what?

17 Use white space to separate information i.e. clear spaces between paragraphs.

Make demands and issue unreasonable deadlines. e.g. “I’d like this back by tomorrow morning.” Even in a work situation where you are the manager, it is better to sit down with the employee and agree deadlines mutually.

18 Write in correct, clear English, using complete sentences.

Use excuses. Nothing, nothing irritates more. Just say “I’m sorry I didn’t reply earlier. I’ve got the answers to your questions.”

19 Accommodate any known disability needs of your recipients e.g. a visually impaired person with a screenreader will appreciate clear, straightforward English in short sentences. You need to take this seriously: updated disability discrimination legislation in the UK now covers electronic accessibility.

Make promises you can’t, or won’t, keep e.g. “Thanks for your email; I’ll get back to you next week. “ Give an actual date and put a reminder flag on the email; better still deal with it on the spot.

20 Check the rules, if any, in your organisation. If there are no rules, especially in an image-conscious company, consider writing some.

Go behind people’s backs. Never use bcc (blind copy) without careful consideration first.

Have an out of office email set up but make sure it either deflects incoming mail onto another person (previously briefed) or indicates clearly that the enquiry will not be dealt with until your return.

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7. References Cottrell, S (2008) The Study Skills Handbook (3e) Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan Chapter 7 ‘Elearning, technology and personalised learning’ pp 139-166 Excellent advice about managing email groups, using email for research and managing contacts.

Duggleby, Julia (2000) How to be an Online Tutor Aldershot: Gower Simple, logical netiquette charter, pp48-49.

Florida Atlantic University Information Resource Management (undated) ‘Netiquette’ online: http://www.fau.edu/irm/about/netiquette.php#basic_email (acc. 04/12/2009) Exhaustive but well-organised list of netiquette in various situations: business, education, amongst friends etc.

Learn The Net (undated) ‘Test Your Cyber-Savvy With the Netiquette Quiz’ online: http://www.learnthenet.com/English/flashtest/netiquette.htm (acc. 04/12/2009) Fun quiz on online behaviour.

McIlroy, D (2003) Studying @ University London: Sage Ch. 4 ‘Computers – Friends not Foes’ pp 66-93 includes useful section on effective emailing at university.

Salmon, G (2000) E-Moderating London: Kogan Page Salmon, G (2002) E-tivities: the key to active online learning London: Kogan Page Gilly Salmon is a leading guru of online learning in the UK. You will be wincing fairly quickly at her gushy style and annoying animal metaphors; however, buried in all the schmooze is pertinent, objective advice about knowledge transfer and acquisition online, the behaviour of online communities, how to motivate groups to cooperate online, and, most important, how to stay in control of your own behaviour online.

An annotated version of this worksheet will be available on Blackboard after the lesson.

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E-communication - task sheet - annotated version  

1. How long have you used email and what is your main access point e.g. home computer, mobile phone? How many addresses do you now have? 1....

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