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11.1: Informative Business Messages

  • Page ID
    4163
  • What you’ll learn to do: Identify the appropriate use of informative business messages and write an informative business message.

    Informative messages are the backbone of business communication. In this section, we will cover short informative messages using a variety of techniques. We will also explore how to write long informative messages and use appropriate communication channels.

    learning outcomes

    • Discuss the purpose and use cases of informative messages in a business context
    • Write a short informative message
    • Write a long informative message

    What is an Informative Message?

    Most business communications are in fact “informative” messages. An informative message in the workplace is simply the sharing of meaningful information between people in an unbiased and professional manner. Informative messages can be short or long, formal or casual in tone, internal or external in focus, and direct or indirect in structure, depending on the situation. Like all forms of communication, the purpose of informative messages is to promote understanding, encourage action, stimulate thinking, or promote ideas.

    Since informative messages are so prevalent in business communication, there are too many examples and use cases to mention in this brief module. Simple, informative messages can be used to let employees know of an upcoming IT system maintenance, a new break room cleanliness policy, or a new all-hands meeting time. They can be used to announce a significant company win over a competitor, a new product launch delay, or the creation of a new division within the company. As the subject becomes more important and complex, informative messages can enlighten employees about quarterly financial results, acquisitions, and plans to take the company public.

    Informative messages can take on almost any form of electronic communication: IMs, chats, emails, presentations, memos, blogs, podcasts, press releases, and reports. As was stated earlier in this module, the situation at hand will dictate how the message is crafted and how it is sent. Despite the variety of informative messages and how they can be sent, there are some guidelines that pertain to all effective business communication.

    1. Get to the main idea as quickly as possible.
    2. Use a greeting to identify the audience.
    3. Be clear and concise with the presentation of information.
    4. Check your message for grammatical errors.
    5. Include a call to action.

    practice question

    What is wrong with this informative message?

    To: All employees
    From: HR
    Subject: Benefit packages are ready to pick up

    It is that time of year again to reenroll for your health benefits. Teh packets are on my desk and can be picked up at any time. Pls do so as soon as possible.

    Thank you

    Sally Jones
    HR Specialist
    • The subject line is weak
    • The signature is poor
    • The message has several grammatical errors.
    Answer

    The message has several grammatical errors.

    Short Informative Messages

    Short, informative messages can take a variety of forms. For example, a quick communication to a teammate can utilize IM technology and provide a vehicle for a quick response. These messages tend to be more conversational in structure and resemble a chat more than an email or other document (Figure 1).

    Screenshot of an online chat conversation between two coworkers discussing an upcoming event. Coworker 1: Hey were you able to get a count of who's available to come to the summit next month? Coworker 2: Yep! Everyone'es answered the Google form I sent out. Here's the results (file is shared). Coworker 1: Perfect! Oh good! It looks like most people can come. Thanks so much for getting this info! Coworker 2: No problem! Always happy to help. The next party planning meeting is on Thursday, right? Coworker 1: Yep! See you then!

    Figure 1. A chat conversation between two coworkers discussing attendance of a future summit.

    Another form of a short informative message could be a Twitter message, or tweet. Tweets are better for communicating with larger audiences, possibly external as well; in fact, one of the primary uses of Twitter (by companies) is advertising and promoting their brands. (We discussed Twitter in more depth in Module 10: Social Media.)

    If the situation requires a more formal approach for your message, sending an email is usually more appropriate. In this example, the communication is being sent to a company executive from a subordinate.

    To: Dave McCann

    CC:

    Subject: Change Of Plans (the customer wants to meet before lunch tomorrow)

    From: Jon Parks

    Good morning Dave,

    Our contact just sent me a message requesting that we meet in their lobby at 11:00 am instead of meeting for lunch at 12. Will that work for your schedule?

    Thank you,

    Jon

    Jon Parks

    Senior Account Manager

    Code Software

    practice question

    Your company has just landed a big contract with ABC Corporation after a year-long sales campaign. Write an effective subject line for this informative email to announce the win to the organization.

    Write your essay response here:

    Answer

    While there are many options, your answer should look something like one of these: “ABC Corporation Is A Customer!”; “Big Win for Sales with ABC Corporation Contract”; “ABC Corporation Signs A Big Contract!”

    Long Informative Messages

    While long informative messages can be delivered through a variety of mediums, they will typically hit the same beats regardless of the delivery method. As with all business messages, it’s important to keep concision in mind. While there certainly are more complex messages that require longer communications, remember to stay focused and only provide the information your audience needs.

    The Message

    This example is an email message providing a sales team with suggested verbiage for mass messaging to partners and retailers.

    To: Rize Outreach Team

    CC: Rize Executive Team

    Subject: Happy New Year from Rize Fitness

    From: Regina Black

    Hello Team,

    The following is the standard messaging for our long-term partners and coaches about our work in the past year. Please feel free to customize this message based on your knowledge of the gyms within your regions. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Here’s to a great year!

    As we begin the new year, I can’t help but reflect and acknowledge it’s an exciting time to be working in fitness.

    Reviewing what we accomplished last year collectively across all of our gyms and our partners’ gyms, we’re proud to announce that we finished 2017 with record-smashing enrollment figures: 230,000 members across 48 gyms during 2017! We’re on track for even faster growth in 2018, with at least three new gyms opening next year.

    But memberships and new locations are just part of the story. In the end, those figures are only meaningful if we are also improving our members’ lives. In 2017 we saw important progress in measurably improving not only our members’ physical health, but improving their mindsets about healthy lifestyles by introducing our new “Healthy Life Healthy You” classes.

    As 2018 rolls forward, I feel it’s important to be deliberate about the commitments Rize is making to you, as well as the change Rize exists to create for its members. We commit to make fitness achievable and rewarding for all individuals, regardless of their particular goals or needs.

    In 2018 and beyond, Rize is growing in ways that expand our collective impact. I invite you to read my recent blog post highlighting some of our recent findings and success stories that confirm we’re on a promising path.

    Thank you, on behalf of the full Rize team, for your partnership and support. I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback about the blog post, and your own reflections about your goals and challenges in our work together. Please reach out.

    Best,

    Regina

    The situational context of a message is key to its success. Some messages will be targeted for internal employees with a specific call to action to use the text provided to expand a marketing effort. Others work as a means of communicating with customers and would-be customers to rebut apparent negative comments from competitors. Others may bring an array of products and services together conceptually for greater understanding for the targeted audience. Still others will deliver lengthy product feature details in a casual, friendly and unassuming manner.

    Delivery Methods

    Long informative messages can utilize multiple communication vehicles. The primary delivery methods you’ll run across are email, blog, presentation, and podcast.

    • Emails can be considered the “default” delivery method for business messages. While they can be effective if written well (after all, they’re delivered directly to the person you hope will receive the message), they can also appear bland if not executed correctly.
    • A blog can be used to inform about, promote, and build a brand. It can also serve to personalize a brand by showcasing the perspectives of those who work at the company or it can serve to build a community by promoting the work of outside authors.
    • Presentations are a great way to communicate large amounts of detailed information or utilize graphics to convey complex ideas to a defined audience. Graphics can be utilized to inform the audience of several connected ideas.
    • Podcasts can be quite effective as informative messages. They give businesses an opportunity to engage in more casual conversation, but they can still be packed with very detailed functionality information about how the products or applications work and serve customers.

    practice question

    Imagine that you are working in a customer service capacity for a large organization. Customers have begun to report similar problems over and over via voice mail messages. You should:

    • Send email to all customers.
    • Post a blog in the weekly company newsletter
    • Create a podcast on the company website that addresses the problem and posts the solution.
    Answer

    Create a podcast on the company website that addresses the problem and posts the solution.