(Short) Business Correspondence

Report
Types & Genres
(SHORT) BUSINESS CORRESPONDENCE
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Revisit PAGOS
Specific purpose may determine organization
adjustment, claim, request, complaint, inquiry,
response, “to-file”, etc.
Determine whether correspondence is:
 good news / positive / neutral
 bad news / negative
 persuasive / sales
POSITIVE/NEUTRAL: COMMUNICATION GOALS
POSITIVE/NEUTRAL: ORGANIZATION
Direct Approach Organization



OPENING: main idea, purpose, request
BODY: details
CLOSING: request action (if needed), goodwill closing
NEGATIVE/BAD NEWS: COMMUNICATION GOALS
Acceptance—strive to help receiver understand
and accept the bad news.
 Positive image—promote good image of yourself
and your organization. Strive to reduce bad
feelings. Convey fairness.
 Message clarity—make the message so clear
that no further correspondence is necessary.
 Protection—avoid creating legal liability.

NEGATIVE/BAD NEWS: ORGANIZATION
Indirect Approach Organization (BEBE)




Buffer: opening with context
Explanation
Bad news (offer alternative?)
Exit: goodwill closing (offer alternative?)
TYPES OF BUFFERS
Start with any good news or positive elements
the letter contains.
 State a fact or provide a chronology of events.
 Refer to enclosures in the letter.
 Thank the reader for something he or she has
done.
 State a general principle.

EVALUATING BUFFER STATEMENTS
How effective are the following openings for
a letter that refuses to grant credit?
Unfortunately, your application
for credit has been reviewed
negatively.
Reveals the bad
news bluntly.
We sincerely regret that we must Sounds phony
deny your credit application.
and canned.
EVALUATING BUFFER STATEMENTS
How effective are the following openings for
a letter that refuses to grant credit?
We are delighted to receive your Gives the wrong
application for credit.
impression.
The recent resurgence of
interest in the stock market
caught many of us by surprise.
Is not relevant.
EVALUATING BUFFER STATEMENTS
How effective are the following openings for a
letter that refuses a request for a donation?
Your request for a monetary
contribution has been referred to
me for reply.
Fails to engage
the reader.
We appreciate the fine work your
organization is doing to provide
early childhood programs that
meet the needs of parents and
very young children.
Compliments
reader and
implies
approval.
Avoid
the
spotlight.
Use the
passive
voice.
Use a
long
sentence.
Techniques for
Cushioning
Bad News
Suggest
a compromise
or an alternative.
Imply
the
refusal.
Place the
bad news
in a subordinate
clause.
Be clear
but not
overly graphic.
CUSHIONING THE BAD NEWS
 Avoid the spotlight.
Put the bad news in the middle of a
paragraph halfway through the message.
 Use a long sentence.
Don’t put the bad news in a short, simple
sentence.
CUSHIONING THE BAD NEWS
 Place the bad news in a subordinate
clause.
Although we have no opening for an
individual with your qualifications at this
time, we are pleased that you thought of
us when you started your job search.
CUSHIONING THE BAD NEWS
 Be clear but not overly graphic.
Instead of this
Try this
Our investigation
reveals that you owe
three creditors large
sums and that you
were fired from your
last job.
Our investigation
reveals that your
employment status and
your financial position
are unstable at this
time.
CUSHIONING THE BAD NEWS
 Imply the refusal.
Instead of this
We cannot contribute
to your charity this
year.
Try this
Although all our profits
must be reinvested in
our company this year,
we hope to be able to
support your future
fund-raising activities.
CUSHIONING THE BAD NEWS
 Suggest a compromise or an
alternative.
Although the cashmere sweater cannot be sold
at the erroneously listed price of $18, we can
allow you to purchase this $218 item for only
$118.
CUSHIONING THE BAD NEWS
 Consider using passive voice verbs.
Passive-voice verbs focus attention on
actions rather than on personalities. They are
useful in being tactful.
Instead of this
We cannot make a
contribution at this
time.
Try this
A contribution
cannot be made at
this time.
CUSHIONING THE BAD NEWS
 Consider using passive voice verbs.
Active voice
Passive voice
I cannot allow you to
return the DVD player
because . . . .
Return of the DVD
player is not allowed
because . . . .
Ryan checked the
report, but he missed
the error.
The report was
checked, but the error
was missed.
CUSHIONING THE BAD NEWS
Notice that passive-voice verb phrases always
include “helper” verbs, such as is, are, was,
were, being, or been.
Examples of “helper” verbs forming
passive voice:
 The report was checked.
 The schedule is being revised.
 Invitations were sent.
CLOSING / ALTERNATIVES
Offer the reader another way to get what’s
wanted (compromise, substitute, etc.)
 Suggest the writer really cares about the
reader.
 Enable the reader to reestablish psychological
freedom (choice).
 End on a forward looking, positive note.

PERSUASIVE: COMMUNICATION GOALS
To have the reader act.
 To provide enough information so the reader
knows exactly what to do.
 To overcome any objections that might prevent
or delay action.

PERSUASIVE: GENERAL ORGANIZATION

Opening: Problem statement? Hook? Detail?
Situation/Context? Request?
 LINK
TO READER BENEFIT
Body: details, reasons, etc.
 Close: restate request, idea

PERSUASIVE: COLD ORGANIZATION
AIDA
Attention
Interest
Desire
Action
PERSUASIVE: COLD ORGANIZATION
Capture the ATTENTION of the reader.
Offer something valuable, promise a
benefit, ask a question, provide a
quotation, and so forth
PERSUASIVE: COLD ORGANIZATION
Build INTEREST.
Emphasize a central selling point.
Make rational and emotional appeals
PERSUASIVE: COLD ORGANIZATION
Elicit DESIRE.
To reduce resistance, use testimonials,
money-back guarantees, free samples,
performance tests, or other techniques.
PERSUASIVE: COLD ORGANIZATION
Motivate ACTION.
Offer a gift, promise an incentive, limit
the offer, set a deadline, or guarantee
satisfaction. Include a P.S. with a
special inducement.
PERSUASIVE: READER BENEFITS

Benefits and advantages the reader gets from
 using
your services
 buying your products
 following your policies
 adopting your ideas

Demonstrate your concern for quality and
meeting customers’ needs
GOOD READER BENEFITS ARE

Adapted to the audience
 Saving

money vs. saving time
Developed using logic and details
 Accurate
 Detailed
Phrased in You-Attitude
 Benefits are often “frontloaded”


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