Email Etiquette

Public Relations is all about communication, which is why those who intend to pursue PR careers study and take an in-depth look at people’s behavior and interactions with others. In the growing age of technology, we still engage in the same behavior and interactions, just in different ways. Email is one of the main forms of communication that has proven to be trustworthy overtime.


An email is a classic way to introduce an individual to a reporter, potential employer, brand ambassador, or onboarding client. Many take a step further by calling or meeting in person after initial contact. For now, review these tips and tricks to ensure your emails are successful and professional:


  • Be friendly: When opening or closing an email, it takes an extra few seconds to type “I hope you’re doing well!” or “Enjoy your weekend!”. These brief statements are an easy way to leave the reader in a more amicable mood. “Please” and “thank you” are also valuable assets, but don’t overdo it. Even in thank-you notes, don’t use the phrase “thank you” more than twice. Once at the beginning and once at the end is enough.
  • Be transparent: In the subject line and email, be clear about what you are emailing about. This makes it easier on both parties, so no one has to wade through inarticulate language or send more emails back and forth to clarify. Especially when sending pitches, subjects lines and emails need to be coherent and consistent to save time and to develop the relationship between you and the client (which hopefully ends with your pitch used as a press release).
  • Be succinct: PR is typically time sensitive and, chances are, if you have a pitch, there are a plethora of competing pitches already sitting in your recipient’s inbox. Don’t drag out your emails; a few short paragraphs will typically suffice. People will appreciate your brevity, so long as you hit all the points you need to cover. Quality over quantity every time!
  • Use the right signoff: Did you just say “thank you”? Then don’t sign off with “thanks”. “Best”, “sincerely”, or sometimes just your name can work just as well. If you’re sending a more casual email to coworkers about an upcoming event, feel free to be more casual and go with a hearty “cheers”. Read your audience, and understand boundaries.
  • Include your signature: A default signature is a great way to cut down on your email content, and eliminates the need to write out your phone number out every time there is a follow-up email. A signature with your position, company, phone number, and even a link to your LinkedIn profile are great resources for other individuals. It also adds that extra bit of professionalism and ethos to your email.
  • Check your spelling and grammar: Use spell check, read your email out loud and use outside apps to check your writing. With so many options to check your work, it’s easy to take a minute to ensure your work is correct. Another thing to look out for: how often you use exclamation points. Unless you just accepted a job offer (and sometimes even then), limit your exclamation points to sentences that really need that extra boost.
  • Check your attachments: Yes, naturally check your spelling and grammar, but also check your attachments. Are they confidential? Is your sender correct? Does the hyperlink work? Many companies have switched over to using cloud backups, and now send important files by way of Dropbox to ensure user privacy. This way, the links can be timed, and access can be revoked at any time.
  • Put the sender in last: By typing in your recipient after you type the email, you can avoid accidentally sending your message before it is finished. However, even if you do, Google has up to a 30 second “undo send” option in its settings. For those using templates through HubSpot or similar software, that require you to input a sender before constructing the email, consider putting in your own email. This way, even if the email is prematurely sent , it won’t do any harm.
  • Follow-up: Speaking of HubSpot, many tech services offer tracking and monitoring for emails sent and opened. This is helpful when constructing follow-up emails, as it allows you to tailor the email to the amount of information the recipients need. And, if the recipient gets back to you, make sure to respond as soon as possible, typically within 24 hours.


Emails can be annoying to send, but they are crucial when initiating potential relationships and have the ability to reach a large audience with just a few clicks. Knowing how to confidently and successfully send a professional email will help make your life easier in the long run, especially for students going on co-op.


NUPRSSA Tips: Co-op Interviews

Can you believe it?  It’s already time for a new round of co-op interviews!  To help you through the sometimes stressful process of applying and the occasionally nerve-wracking interviews, the E-Board is back to share some of their tips on how to ensure an A+ interview.

1. Look professional and put together.  As Oscar Wilde said, you can never be over-dressed or over-educated!
– Katie, President 

2. Be prepared to talk about anything and everything listed on your resume. Many of the co-op interviewers I’ve met with go through your resume and spark conversation from there. It is important to know how to highlight your experiences in an impressive way!
– Kristina, Vice President 

3. Anticipate questions the interviewer may ask you. Knowing typical interview questions and preparing for them will allow you to be more comfortable in the interview setting, less stressed, and avoid any awkward pauses or answers you won’t be happy with.  
– Jessica, Secretary 

4. After the interview, write a hand-written thank you card to the person that you interviewed with. Make sure to thank them for their time and reiterate why you are a good candidate for the job. 
– Shannon, Treasurer 

5. Prepare!  I realize it sounds like the most basic bit of information, but I find it the most important.  Aside from just researching the company, make sure that you research the job description and a little bit about your interviewer.  They often ask what you think might be the most exciting part of the job – preparation will ensure you know how to best answer this question.
– Gabi, Social Media 

6. Smile and be enthusiastic! That was the greatest compliment I received during interviews was that I was genuinely interested and excited to be there. Having a strong resume is a great, but showing that you are willing to learn and excited to do so will earn you points!
– Chelsea, Fundraising 

7. Ask for a business card! At the end of your interview, make sure you ask your interviewer for a business card. Not only does this show a level of professionalism, it will also help you in writing a thank you note later on! 
– Libby, Outreach 

Make sure to come back next month for the next set of useful tips!

NUPRSSA’s Former Vice President, Sarah Dolan’s Experience with Informational Interviews

Since January, I have been on co-op in Washington, D.C. at a large public relations agency. As I got settled into my new co-op, I decided that with only a few months in our nation’s capital, I needed to make the most of my time. One way I have tried to do that is through informational interviews.

I had always heard about informational interviews in co-op classes or at PRSSA meetings but wasn’t sure where to start.

I decided to start out by making it a point to meet with Northeastern alums and senior staff at my office who specialized in my areas of interest. This is easy to do at any of your co-op offices. People are typically flattered when asked to sit down for a cup of coffee to consult on your career, so don’t be scared to email as many people as you can find. The worst that can happen is that they say no or don’t respond.

Other resources you can use to find people are LinkedIn, Northeastern Alumni organizations or contacts from your friends and classmates. One of the first informational interviews I did in D.C. was with an office whose co-op job offer I had declined! I explained that I had turned it down because it was unpaid and not because I had anything against the organization and asked to set up an informational interview while I was in D.C. My point is, don’t be afraid to ask

Once you have secured an informational interview, make sure you prepare just as you would for a co-op/job interview. Do some research on the person’s company, have questions prepared and bring a copy of your resume!

Some questions to get the conversation started:

  • Advice for someone starting out in the business?
  • How did you get to where you are?
  • Bounce off ideas for where you think you want to co-op/intern and even what clubs/organizations to join at school
  • What is a typical day like at your job?
  • How did you get your current / first job?
  • Do you have any advice for someone starting out in this industry?

One of the best pieces of advice I have found for informational interviews was from the Northeastern University Career Services Informational Interviewing Guide. (A GREAT resource for tips and sample emails) The guide suggests that you should always ask the person you are speaking with if they could recommend anyone else that you should speak with for more advice? During my time in D.C. this question alone has led to three informational interviews!

After the interview always remember to send a thank you, just as you would with any co-op interview.

Make sure to keep some sort of address book or spreadsheet of the contacts you have acquired through co-op, informational interviews and speakers at PRSSA. This will help you find contact information when you need it!

When trying to follow-up and keep in touch with these contacts you have made, don’t just go to people when you need a job or co-op season rolls around. Keep your network up to date about what you are doing in school/co-op with a short note every couple of months. As long as you stay on the radar of your new contacts, they are more likely to think of you if they hear about open positions!

Informational interviews over the past four months have helped expand my network and give me better insight into the job market I will soon be entering!

So go out there, send some emails and get interviewing! If you have any questions feel free to email me at!

Sarah Dolan

Vice President, Fall 2010