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Email Writing assignment

The Basics

  • You will write three emails in response to three different situations (described below), following (of course!) the guidelines of professional email style discussed in class and in our readings.  For our purposes, send each of these email messages to me (skrause@emich.edu) from an appropriately professional email address of your own.
  • You will also write a writer’s memo (using Google Docs) where you briefly explain the choices you made as you put together these email messages. Be sure to make connections to the assigned readings and discussions on this in your memo, and also be sure to discuss any of the things you have “done differently” from what you would have done before as a result of our discussions.

Why I am assigning this project:

As simple and as “common sense” as it may seem, poorly written email messages are far too common and incredibly frustrating. Our goal here is to focus on the “little things” that make the difference between a concise email and a confusing one.

The Scenarios

  • Scenario #1:  You are a university student in a 300-level writing class (this is a particularly realistic scenario!)  You know an assignment is due in a week that you will not be able to complete on time because of a test you have for another class. You also know that this professor has a policy where late work is penalized except when students inform the professor ahead of time that the work will be late. Email your professor to explain the situation and to ask for a one week extension.
  • Scenario #2:  You are a student at EMU and as part of a class project, everyone is being asked to invite a speaker to an online class (also realistic!) Given the topic of email correspondence, you are being asked by the others in your group to invite EMU’s Executive Director of Media Relations, Geoff Larcom, to an online Google Hangouts live “chat” to talk about some of the challenges of communicating with such a diverse audience. You are asking Larcom if he can attend our class on either January 31 or February 5.
  • Scenario #3: Imagine you work in the marketing and media department of a mid-sized southeast Michigan company that also publishes a popular newsletter about its industry (you can decide what the industry is).  Currently, the newsletter is a print document published and distributed bi-monthly for free to hundreds of different readers around the world.  You are one of the editors of the company’s newsletter. With a change in policy and publishing, you need to send a mass email to your subscribers to inform them that your company’s newsletter will now be delivered electronically, by e-mail, and will be updated monthly instead of bimonthly. Customers who wish to receive the print version of the newsletter will be charged an annual handling fee of $30. Customers need to inform the company if they wish to cancel their subscriptions to the newsletter. Be sure to present these changes positively—with your customers’ point of view in mind.
6 Comments
  1. Melanie Waller permalink

    Just to get this right. We write and email to you from our email and then go to google.docs and write a memo to you or the whole class. And is the one memo to you for each assignment or one memo altogether.

    • Steve Krause permalink

      The writer’s memos (which are a part of all of the assignments this term) are always addressed directly to me. For the emails, you want to have in mind the ideal audience those messages. The first one is for a professor (I leave that kind of open, but if you want, write it to me.) The second one is to Geoff Larcom. And the third one is to the customers of a mid-sized company that is some industry (you can decide what– the auto industry, paper distribution, candle making, whatever), and these customers have this industry and its product in common but they are otherwise located all over the world.

  2. Melanie Waller permalink

    I have 2 of them done. I just want to make sure that I am sending them to the right place. Which is to your email account.

  3. Natasha Wickenheiser permalink

    I have a clarifying question about scenario 2. When it says “given the topic of email correspondence,” does it mean that the class is currently discussing email correspondence, or that I was delegated within my group to email people asking them to be our guest speaker? Additionally, in what context is Mr. Larcom discussing challenges of communicating with such a diverse audience? For all university communications? Specifically in regard to email correspondence? I guess I’m trying to understand how the discussion relates to the hypothetical class and situation. I hope my questions make sense…

  4. Elyse Cawetzka permalink

    I’m a little confused. Are we writing a total of three emails, meaning one email per scenario, or are we writing three emails per scenario, so a total of nine emails?

    • Steve Krause permalink

      A total of three emails– so one per scenario.

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