Monday Prescriptions – The Art of Business Emails

Hi Film Folk!

So, before getting into the office The Film Doctor Team have usually already sent around 5 emails each. In the course of the day that number will quickly acquire an extra digit, not forgetting all the quick messages/reminders sent out to confirm lunches/receptions/events attendance.

But writing/replying to emails is not for everyone. We meet many people afraid to put fingertip to key because they don’t know ‘How’ to ‘phrase it’ and plenty of others that are overzealous in the emailing department!


So today we’re going to cover a serious business – the art of professional correspondence.


The 7 Biggest Mistakes of Email Writing:


1. Sending emails to generic address, e.g. – Will get you nowhere. It goes straight to the Receptionist’s inbox and most likely stays there forever. Also, why would you be so lazy as to not do your ‘homework’ and find out who is your required contact? Don’t you want your project to find its way to someone helpful and useful? Say you’ve got a film ready for release and shopping around for distributors. Once you’ve made a list of suitable distribution companies, research their staff members, finding out the names of the most suitable person, e.g. Acquisition Assistant. Since you already know the ‘generic’ email address for each company (the info@), work out the address for the person you need. Run the names in a search engine, entering “Firstname Lastname @” and you should be able to find a pattern of how the addresses are composed. For example, if your search returns some staff emails with , you can safely assume that the person you need would also have this kind of address. You can go the extra mile and Bcc (not Cc!!!) a few variations of the email, just in case your first guess was wrong:



Note: If, for some unknown reason, your search returns absolutely nothing and all other resources don’t produce the desired results, at least put the name of the person you’d like to contact in the Email Subject Line – “FAO: Name Lastname, New Amazing Thriller Starring Amazing Name”.


2. Not addressing the contact personally // Getting the name wrong –  One of the business world’s ‘deadliest sins’. All your wonderful research and effort ruined by a simple typo in the name of the contact or, worse, an email addressed to someone else – because, for example, you copy pasted the body without changing the heading / greeting part. Apart from getting the names right, make sure you tailor the content of your message accordingly – as you might have some extra special information about each recipient that you might want to include (shows that you care enough to look into that person’s current life/career). Never blindly copy paste anything to save time – or you might find yourself congratulating a sales agent on a film reviewer’s newborn baby.

Never do “Dear Sir(s)/Madam(S)” or “To Whom It May Concern” – if you don’t know who you’d like to concern with your project, then you don’t know who you should be doing business with. If you’ve done your little research as mentioned in no.1 above, you’d know exactly who you’re after.


3. Carbon copy (Cc:) instead of Blind Carbon Copy (Bcc:) – You’ve composed your great email, got the right addresses and then… oh horror, it went out to everyone at once! 

Revealing names and all. Well, the consolation is we’ve all done it at some point. And once you’ve hit the ‘Send’ button there really isn’t anything you can do to stop that train of shame. So just keep that one in mind for the future and aim not to rush the ‘Send’ part.


4. Spam-like or weak subject titles – Ultimately, you want that email not just to successfully arrive at the designated inbox but actually be read. So whatever you put in the subject line of your email, it should prompt the recipient to open it. Direct marketing folk – who sent out promotional emails and newsletters for living – have come up with a few tips, including “Emphasize the benefits” (why reading this email is worth while), “Ignite curiosity” (‘Can we interest you in a new Tom Cruise movie?’ is more intriguing than ‘New Tom Cruise Movie’)  and “Avoid Delete-Inducing Words” (anything that shouts ‘annoying-salesy-email’).


5. No hook in the email’s body – Hooray, your message has been opened. Now the content should make the reader respond to you as soon as possible. Or respond full stop. Having a strong introduction paragraph or a ‘hook’ in your email is what makes all the difference. Most likely your recipient will just scan through the email – so you need to have sentences that grab attention and entice to read more thoroughly. So take your time when composing a business-related email.


6. Silly spelling mistakes – When it’s too early or end of the work day, when you’re multitasking or chasing up several leads, when your concentration is just that tiny bit low, spelling mistakes creep up. Don’t just rely on your eye sight to spot those – run the good old automatic spellcheck at the end of each email draft.


7. Email signature – Must contain your name, title (even if you’re self-employed, you still got a title, right?), company name (if applicable) and your preferred contact details. Can also help to include links to your blog / showreel / IMDb page / LinkedIn  profile. You mean business, so show what business.


‘Monday Prescription’ No. 24 – Writing professional emails is a skill to learn. Never rush your business correspondence and always go the extra mile.

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Have a great week!
The Film Doctor Team
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