How To Send Great Emails That Actually Get A Response, Part 2

first-time-filmmaker

(Bri Castellini) #1

Read part 1 here, which covered press request and advice email etiquette, as well as some overall tips. Then read on!

Collaboration seeking

Subject Line: We’re assuming this is an unsolicited request for a collaboration for the purposes of this article. As always, keep it simple, something like “Possible collaboration: web series project about mental health.” If you’re reaching out to a company as a representative of another company or group, clarify that in the subject line as well- “possible collaboration between [company] and [your company/org], [2-3 word org description].”

Message Body: Briefly introduce yourself and, if applicable, your organization or proposed project. If you’re asking for a creative collaboration with a person, be clear up front if you’re wanting to hire the person you’re reaching out to or if you’re hoping they’ll hire you. Consider this email a pitch: what do you want to do together and why should they say yes? What can they expect from this arrangement, and why do you believe it’s valuable? If you don’t have answers to these questions, you probably aren’t ready to ask for a collaboration yet.

If you’re an organization or group reaching out to, say, Stareable, or another company/organization, be very clear about what kind of collaboration you’re looking for, and as always, do your research. What have they done before, what are they currently doing, and how can you/your organization can either help them do what they’re doing better or bigger or do something similar but new along those same lines. Be concrete about what you think your organization can offer, and why the collaboration would benefit both parties equally. Things to avoid include:

  • asking for a paid service for free in exchange for “exposure” (featured status at an event without splitting the bill, for example). Unless your mailing list or social media engagement numbers are substantially higher than the person/organization you’re asking to collaborate with, or you’re bringing high-caliber guests to an event, or you’re doing an equal trade, this just seems like you want something for free.

  • turning a collaboration decision into a moral decision. It’s great if your organization is beneficial to the community (one that supports women/POC/low income/ LGBT+ filmmakers, one that supports filmmakers in general, etc), but that doesn’t mean you’re owed anything, and positioning the decision as an ethical one is both unfair to already busy/overscheduled people and unlikely to get results. Guilt isn’t a good reason to collaborate.

  • putting the onus on the other party to decide on an idea. You’re the one reaching out- don’t come to the table (or the email compose screen) without at least one or two concrete ways to work together.

Introductions

Subject Line: This email type comes in two flavors: introducing people and asking to be introduced to people. If you’re introducing people, a simple subject line of “[Name] from [company/project], meet [Name 2] from [company/project]” will be fine. If you’re asking for an introduction, just cut to the chase: “Can you introduce me to [name]?”

Message Body: Introducing two people is possibly the easiest email to write, because the formula is expected to be the same no matter the circumstance. [Name], meet [Name 2]. [Name 2] is [description of person focusing on why the introduction is relevant]. And [Name 2], meet [Name], [description of the other person also focusing on why this introduction is happening.] I thought you two should know of each other because [explicit reason why they’re being introduced.] I’ll let you take it from here!” Best practices is to let both parties know an introduction email is coming, but that rarely happens and again, once this single email is sent, it’s out of your hands.

Asking to be introduced to someone isn’t much different. Explain both what you’re looking to do post-introduction and why this person in particular is who you want to be connected with. In this instance, laying it on thick may work in your favor. Also, offer to send pre-written email copy for the introduction, something your connection can easily copy/paste. This pre-written copy should include who you are, how you know the connecting party, what you want to be introduced for, and why they are the person you wanted to talk to about it. The big takeaway here is to make it as easy for the introducer as possible, because they’re basically getting nothing out of this.

Production communication

Subject Line: Finally, a section about communicating with your team! This kind of email is easier, because you’re messaging people you know, and also harder, because you’re messaging people you know. People you know rarely like long emails because they assume you’re going to talk about the contents elsewhere, so keep these as short as possible. The subject line just needs to be clear: “production schedule for this month” or “please bring the following to tomorrow’s production meeting.” If you’re suspicious about the read-rates, add a “Read Entire Message: [subject line]” to let them know you’re in business-mode.

Message Body: Deliver on your subject line’s promise- if you’re sending out a production schedule, list the schedule or immediately link to where it lives elsewhere! If you need someone to bring something to a meeting or do research or prepare something, immediately be clear about what the thing is and when you need it by. If you’re doing your job, you shouldn’t need to apologize for requesting something, but if you do, make it quick. “Sorry for the late notice/the change, [brief explanation of circumstance that led to apology.] Let me know ASAP if you aren’t able to [make it to the meeting/ finish this in time/ etc] and we’ll figure something out.”

Just be direct- it’s much more difficult for someone to say yes and do their job if half your email is unrelated nonsense and unnecessary apologies. Do you need a wardrobe decision by Tuesday, no later than 5pm? Ask for that and move on. Not receiving what you asked for is a whole separate article, but when it comes to writing a great email to a production teammate, just get in and get out, being clear about expectations, deadlines, and any necessary details for them to agree to or complete a task.


Did we miss any emails you need advice about in this article or in part 1? Let us know and we may throw together a part 3!