Writing Letters

Have you ever experienced good or bad service at a company and thought;” how do I go about letting them know?”  This is a question and task that I get asked about often.

When it comes to writing a letter to an organization it is important to break it down into the following elements:

  1. What is the goal of the letter?
  2. Who is the target audience?
  3. What is the hook to get them to keep reading?
  4. What are the facts to support your claims?
  5. Is there an emotional element to this claim?

We have all seen advertisements sent to us that have those same elements.  It is no different when you are writing to an organization that you are expecting action from.

The Goal:

This is what your real motivation and goal for writing this letter is.  Often times it can be stated right up front in the first paragraph, sometimes it comes in at the bottom as the last sentence.  For example if writing about poor service at a company your goal for the letter could be:

  1. To inform,
  2. To get the issue corrected,
  3. Get them to reimburse your expense in some manner.

Ultimately what do you want and what are you willing to compromise for?  If you are writing to an organization because they wronged you then what do you want them to do to make it right?  If the food you ate was bad and it cost you $10.00 then ask for a refund or gift certificate for another meal to make up for the one you paid for.  Be realistic in your request.  Sometimes you will have to negotiate for what you are after and be willing to compromise.

If you are writing to praise someone or a company for doing the right thing or going above and beyond then the goals would be similar:

  1. To inform,
  2. To express gratitude,
  3. To praise someone or the entire company.

Target Audience:

This is the person you are writing to.  Either an audience or a specific individual at a company.  This is important to keep in mind and establish.  Writing an email to your friend  where you can be emotional and fill the letter with all sorts of details and harsh terms is different than writing to the CEO of a large corporation that you want to take favorable action.  The CEO will probably not even see the letter since it most likely won’t make it past the assistant if it is full of an emotional rant and not directly related facts.

The Hook:

In short it is what gets them interested in reading your letter and not skimming the first paragraph or less.  Sadly in today’s society the amount of time one has to hook someone in correspondence is shorter than ever.

The Facts:

When you are writing it is important to keep to the truth and to the facts.  If you make a claim your statements following need to support that claim and you need to have evidence to back it up.  It is not necessary to put all of the details into the letter; however it is critical to have facts and evidence you can call upon if asked for more information.  These can be bullet points or each paragraph have its own fact with supporting evidence.

Emotional Element:

Emotions are part of human nature.  Depending on the claim being presented the ultimate goal you are trying to reach using some emotion or emotional tug at the person reading can be used.  For example in a lot of political newsletters they use emotional pulls from start to finish to get people to take action or take their side.  It is important to balance the emotion with the facts.

Ask for help in the letter.  The majority of people like to help others and asking for help can get action taken.  To be honest at the point of writing the letter, or making the phone call, you are in fact asking for help even if you do not use those words.  Directly asking for help depending on the situation can be beneficial because it allows the person doing the helping to have the sense that they did something good and tried to help someone else.

In some advertisements and letters from groups there will be a threat of some kind listed among the letter.  For example a lot of SPAM E-Mail that gets forwarded has the threat that if the E-Mail is not forwarded something bad will happen, or you won’t get some reward.  Where threats such as these can have a place in getting people to act when writing a letter like this it is best to refrain from using them.


Remember to edit the letter prior to sending it on.  Make sure that you used punctuation and grammar correctly.  Bad spelling, punctuation, and grammar can ruin a great letter.

Keep It Simple Silly:

Keeping it simple includes keeping it as short as possible.


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