Prewriting - Analyze audience and purpose, anticipate audience and its reaction to the message, adapt message to audience
Drafting - Research back ground collect information, Organize information, draft first version
Revising - Edit for clarity, conciseness, tone, and readability. Proofread spelling, grammar, format, punctuation. Evaluate whether the message will accomplish its goal
Access electronic sources. College and public libraries provide retrieval services that permit access to a wide array of books, journals, magazines, newspapers, and other online literature. In addition, you could conduct an online Google search turning up thousands of hits, which can be overwhelming. Expect to be deluged with torrents of information, presenting a troubling paradox: research seems to be far more difficult to conduct in the digital age than in previous times.Footnote With so much data drowning today's researchers, they struggle to sort through it all, trying to decide what is current, relevant, and credible. Help is on the way, however! You'll learn more about researching and using electronic sources effectively in Chapter 11.
Search manually. Valuable background and supplementary information is available through manual searching of resources in public and college libraries. These traditional sources include books and newspaper, magazine, and journal articles. Other sources are encyclopedias, reference books, handbooks, dictionaries, directories, and almanacs.
Investigate primary sources. To develop firsthand, primary information for a project, go directly to the source. In helping to launch a Gap store in Canada, you might travel to possible sites and check them out. If you need information about how many shoppers pass by a location or visit a shopping center, you might conduct a traffic count. If you needed information about consumers, you could search blogs, Twitter, wikis, and Facebook fan pages. To learn more about specific shoppers, you could use questionnaires, interviews, or focus groups. Formal research often includes scientific sampling methods that enable investigators to make accurate judgments and valid predictions.
Conduct scientific experiments. Another source of primary data is experimentation. Instead of merely asking for the target audience's opinion, scientific researchers present choices with controlled variables. Assume, for example, that the management team at Gap wants to know at what price and under what circumstances consumers would purchase jeans from Gap instead of from Abercrombie & Fitch. Instead of jeans, let's say that management wants to study the time of year and type of weather conditions that motivate consumers to begin purchasing sweaters, jackets, and cold-weather gear. The results of such experimentation would provide valuable data for managerial decision making. Because formal research techniques are particularly necessary for reports, you will study resources and techniques more extensively in Unit 4.
Print a copy, preferably double-spaced, and set it aside for at least a day. You will be more alert after a breather.
Allow adequate time to proofread carefully. A common excuse for sloppy proofreading is lack of time.
Be prepared to find errors. One student confessed, "I can find other people's errors, but I can't seem to locate my own." Psychologically, we don't expect to find errors, and we don't want to find them. You can overcome this obstacle by anticipating errors and congratulating, not criticizing, yourself each time you find one.
Read the message at least twice—once for word meanings and once for grammar and mechanics. For very long documents (book chapters and long articles or reports), read a third time to verify consistency in formatting.
Reduce your reading speed. Concentrate on individual words rather than ideas.
For documents that must be perfect, enlist a proofreading buddy. Have someone read the message aloud. Spell names and difficult words, note capitalization, and read punctuation.
Use the standard proofreading marks shown in Appendix D to indicate changes.
Do I really need to write this e-mail, memo, or letter? A phone call, an IM inquiry, or a quick visit to a nearby coworker might solve the problem—and save the time and expense of a written message. On the other hand, some written messages are needed to provide a permanent record or to develop a thoughtful plan.
Why am I writing? Know why you are writing and what you hope to achieve. This will help you recognize what the important points are and where to place them.
How will the reader react? Visualize the reader and the effect your message will have. Imagine that you are sitting and talking with your reader. Avoid speaking bluntly, failing to explain, or ignoring your reader's needs. Shape the message to benefit the reader. Remember that e-mails may very well be forwarded to someone else and that ill-conceived social media posts can trigger very public reactions.
What channel should I use? It's tempting to use e-mail for much of your correspondence. However, a phone call or face-to-face visit is a better channel choice if you need to
convey enthusiasm, warmth, or another emotion;
supply a context; or
smooth over disagreements.
A business letter is better when the matter requires
a permanent record,
A social media response is needed to reply to certain public posts whenever time is of the essence.
How can I save my reader's time? Think of ways that you can make your message easier to comprehend at a glance. Use bullets, asterisks, lists, headings, and white space to improve readability.
2nd EditionLawrence Scanlon, Renee H. Shea, Robin Dissin Aufses
1st EditionCarol Jago, Lawrence Scanlon, Renee H. Shea, Robin Dissin Aufses
3rd EditionDarlene Smith-Worthington, Sue Jefferson
3rd EditionDarlene Smith-Worthington, Sue Jefferson