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RE:RE:RE:RE:RE: Getting Your Email Read

By Howard Fencl/Hennes Communications

In a crisis, wading through my Outlook inbox looking for important new information a client must communicate is a monumental challenge when that new nugget is buried in an impossibly long email chain, and the subject line is something like: “RE:RE:RE:RE:RE: Your email.”

We evangelize the use of messages in media training, but here’s a little secret: messages can elevate your daily, routine email communication to make sure it gets opened, to make your point and to make it memorable.

Messages are the “take aways” you want your key audiences to remember. They are a tool to help your audience understand exactly what you intend rather than draw their own conclusions from a pile of information. When you hit “reply to” and send an email without tailoring the subject line to your content, recipients may delay opening it, or worse, ignore it altogether.

Using a message in your subject line that “teases” the content of your email will:

  • Quickly communicate new, important information
  • Make your communication stand out from the clutter of a glutted inbox
  • Save everyone time (and money) when they need to go back later to search for specific content

Before you send your next reply, particularly in the middle of a ponderous email chain, ask yourself a question: What’s the one message people reading this email need to know? Overwrite the subject line of the chain with your message:  “New Information on Investigation.” “Important Call from Board Chair.” “Negative Post on Our Facebook Page.” Now you’ve got your readers on the hook!

And while you’re at it, think about whether you really should “reply all” or whether your message is only for the sender. Nothing discourages recipients from opening your emails like being copied too many times on information meant for someone else.


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