If you want to clarify your message, tell it to someone and have them repeat it back to you. Hold that image, then think about email.

It’s hard enough to convey a concept and have it understood when you’re looking at someone and have the full communication arsenal at hand (body language, intonation, rephrasing). When it’s just the words, you see the inherent difficulty in email communication.

And there lies the big obstacle with modern press relations and getting your story conveyed correctly. There’s a lot of room for error when the only means of communicating with a journalist or blogger is through email.

When Brand Thunder received coverage in Handshake 2.0 this week, Anne Clelland had enough cushion in her deadline to allow a couple of exchanges by email, seeking clarification and detail. You don’t always receive that luxury.

So, when you’re responding to a press inquiry or writing any important email, here are a few quick tips to improve the chances that your message captures the meaning you want, the first time.

1. Read it out loud.

If it’s important, take the extra step to read it aloud. Your ear will hear things your eyes didn’t. This is probably the most effective thing you can do.

2. Step away and then read it again.

A short break can give you a fresh view to what you just wrote, and help you catch confusing or misstated items. Even if it’s just a walk to get a drink of water – step away.

3. Reread it emphasizing different words.

Email doesn’t carry the tone you have in your head. Subtlety is lost on the reader, so you can’t take for granted that what you wrote will be read in the same manner.

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