This is a guest post by Solo PR Pro Premium member Janet Falk.
Even solo public relations professionals have partners. Although they may be silent, your email signature, out of office reply and your recorded voicemail greeting represent you and your brand in interactions with correspondents and callers.
Are these silent partners reliable teammates who are working for you?
Take a fresh look at each one and consider some of these best practices.
1. Your email signature(s)
Your email signature is free real estate that's seen hundreds of times a day. Make it perform at a higher level.
Enrich your basic contact information and social media links with self-promotional references.
Here are some email signature tips:
- Position your signature immediately below the last line of your email message. Some email services put it at the tail end of the chain of correspondence, making the recipient scroll and scroll to get your vital contact information.
- Place your direct phone number and cellphone number on the same line, directly under your name, making it easier for the contact to call you. Separate them with a pipe (|), the symbol above the backslash.
- Hyperlink your company name to the website.
- Share your snappy tagline.
- Include your social media accounts with words; sometimes those icons do not display well, so hyperlink the words LinkedIn and Twitter to make the connection effortless.
- Post the title and link to your latest newsletter or blog, plus a link to subscribe.
- Promote a recent news story, case study or promotional one-sheet with relevant links.
- List the date, title and registration link to an upcoming speaking engagement.
Now, once you have engaged with someone, don’t send them this long version of your email signature in your reply to their response.
Instead, have a shorter version, with the most basic information, as in the example below:
Janet L. Falk
212/677-5770 office | 347/256-9141 cell | www.janetlfalk.com
Strategy for News Coverage and Revenue Growth
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Newsletter: Vote. Vote for Email and NOT for Social Media and subscribe here
If you serve more than one market sector, consider a second dedicated email signature, with a similar format. I have one for general use and one for my law firm contacts.
Finally, for those who have staff, set a date for your team members to revise their email signatures, following your model.
2. Your out of office reply
Of course, you told your clients and subcontractors that you were traveling for a few days. Do you think they remember for how long you’ll be gone?
What about that lapsed client who sends you a note out of the blue?
Your out of office reply now steps up to the plate. Compose a brief note that anticipates any question about whether you are assiduously or rarely checking email, if you are reachable by phone, plus when you will return.
Consider these tips for your out of office reply:
- State the dates when you will be gone; for example, from Wednesday, November 4 through Friday, November 13, 2020.
- Indicate whether you will have full, limited or no access to email.
- Provide guidance to contact you in the event of an emergency. Two possible options are to email you with URGENT in the subject line or to call your cell phone number, which you provide.
- Name the member of your team who is able to handle a request in the interim; provide that person’s email address and phone number.
- Promise to respond to the email promptly when you return to the office; in this example, on Monday, November 16, 2020.
- Consider whether or not to direct the correspondent to any marketing literature, reports or newsletters on your website, in your absence.
- Remember to change your automatic reply back to the standard signature when you return to the office.
- I discourage the use of humor. Your note may go to a new correspondent who is unaware of your personality and thereby convey an awkward vibe. But in the end, that's up to you.
3. Your recorded voicemail greeting
Similar to your email signature and out of office reply that convey your brand, so, too, does your recorded voicemail greeting.
Recognize that the caller wants to ask you a question and, if you are not immediately available, learn when you’ll be back in the office to answer it. Keep your greeting short, so that the contact can easily leave a message and proceed with her busy day.
Above all, be respectful of the caller’s time.
Here are a few suggestions to maximize your voicemail greeting:
- State your name (and company), thereby confirming the caller reached the correct party.
- Request the caller to please leave a phone number and message. Say that you will return the call as soon as possible.
- For those who have an office phone, add your cell phone number — enunciated slowly and perhaps repeated. Perhaps the caller will send a text or reach you at that number.
- Make an effort to say your cell phone number slowly. Write the numbers as words and read them aloud; mine is three-four-seven-two-five-six-nine-one-four-one.
- Change your voicemail greeting when you are out of the office for more than a day. Follow the guidance for the out of office reply. Simply note that you are away, you may (not) be reached by phone at your cell phone number and you will return the call after said date. Remember to re-record the greeting when you are back at work.
You are in complete control of how your email, out of office reply and recorded voicemail greeting are shared with others. Take the time to create and produce an informative, warm and professional message in each category. Make sure your silent partners carry your brand forward, loudly and clearly.
Janet Falk is the head of Falk Communications and Research in New York. She provides media relations and marketing communications services to law firms, business owners and consultants.