By Gina F. Rubel
Special to the Legal
Public relations is just as much about what you write as it is about what you say. It is often forgotten that the content and tone of e-mail messages, letters, text messages and social media messages affect the recipient and their perception of the sender. So I decided to go through hundreds of pieces of correspondence to identify the valedictions, better known as letter closings, most commonly used by the professionals with which I correspond.
I grouped the closings into several categories. Here is what I found:
- Appreciative Closings: Many thanks, Thank you and Thanks;
- Cordial Closings: Best, Best regards, Best wishes, Cordially, Fond regards, Kind regards, Kindly, Warm regards and Yours;
- Formal Closings: Always, I remain, Respectfully, Sincerely, Sincerely yours, Very truly yours, and Yours truly; and
- Friendly Closings: All my best, Cheers, Fondly and Keep in touch.
Then of course, in today's less formal environment of e-mail, text messages and social media exchanges, there is a fifth category: Absent Closings.
What I find most interesting about valedictions is that one can often discern the mood the writer is in when they are used. From one person in the course of our first week corresponding, I received, in this order, e-mails with closings that read:
- Very sincerely yours;
- Many thanks; and
This client went from being formal to less formal to thankful to friendly as the communications progressed. Had this same person ended the week with "Warm regards," I would have sat at my desk wondering why the cold shoulder.
Another way some people use letter closings is to create templates for typed letters and electronic signatures for e-mail. I'm not a fan of including valedictions in either. Think of the e-mail that you get from your Aunt Tessie that always closes with her electronic signature that says, "Warm regards." Do you really want "warm regards" from your favorite aunt? Wouldn't you rather her say something less cordial and more fitting for your relationship? Then again -- maybe you wouldn't.
My point is that valedictions can be used strategically, just like any other way we communicate. They can be used as powerful tools to reinforce your message, intimate antipathy, show gratitude and demonstrate respect. What are some of your favorites?
Gina F. Rubel is the owner of Furia Rubel Communications Inc., a public relations and marketing agency with a niche in legal communications. A former Philadelphia trial attorney and public relations expert, she is the author of "Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers." Gina and her PR and marketing firm have won numerous awards for legal communications, public relations, media relations, strategic planning, law firm websites, corporate philanthropy and leadership. She maintains a blog at www.ThePRLawyer.com and you can find her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.