In a fast-paced industry like public relations, long emails and flowery prose don’t cut it. Clients and colleagues appreciate memos that are quick and to the point because no one has time to filter through lengthy missives to understand what you need or what the next steps are.
“Getting the memo” – and writing your own well – is still important to workplace survival (see this famous Office Space clip), so learn how to make yours work:
Keep it short and sweet. Memos should not look like an essay (one page to two pages maximum.) Use headers and bullet points so text doesn’t get lost.
Have a point of view. Never present a concept to a client without an agency recommendation for or against and some smart supportive insights. Clients hire you for your expertise and experience in the field so say it loud and clear.
Be active. Use active versus passive voice, since the active voice is more direct and stronger. For example, “We recommend” versus “It is recommended” show confidence. But don’t confuse the active voice with a personal tone and avoid being too conversational.
Be organized. Meeting recaps should indicate who is responsible for what, with clear deadlines. For campaign recaps with results, impression numbers are a given, but consider screen grabs and clips. It’s useful for the recipient to have a consolidated list of the results to refer to the memo and “see” success.
Back it up. Provide supporting information if needed, but make it in the form of an attachment rather than the body of the memo. If offering a recommendation, make sure you include all pertinent data needed for the decision in question.
Be specific. Above all, be clear and specific about exactly what’s needed – whether it’s approval by EOD, scheduling for an interview with a reporter, or feedback about the plan.