WIM Guide to sending a concise email
Updated: Dec 11, 2019
Jobs within media are often quite unconventional in their application process. There is not necessarily a 'one way' path, and sometimes you will hear of opportunities purely through networking. It can be one of those: 'all down to timing' and 'who you know' jobs.
Even if a publication or company are not advertising for a job, one thing you can always do is send an email to the company's main email, or person whose work you particularly admire, and ask to meet for a coffee and a chat. It’s a really good idea to get your name out there and show people you are keen. The more contacts you make, the more likely you are to get your foot in the door.
Here are some top tips for sending a good email to companies, contacts, and potential employers.
1. Call up first.
Speaking on the phone is always more personable, so it’s quite a good idea to call up first before sending a general email to the address specified on a website. When you speak to them, mention your name and what it is you’re looking for - work experience, internships, or whether someone if their office would be happy to meet with you for a coffee. And then follow up with your email and say something like: ‘thank you for speaking with me earlier today’ / ‘I just spoke to x who was very helpful, and directed me to this email address’. Always thank them at the end - show them how grateful you are for their help!
2. Do your research.
Tell the company / person you’re emailing why you want to get in touch with them specifically. What work is it they have done which you admire? What TV shows or theirs have you enjoyed? Articles they have written? If you end up meeting for a coffee, make sure you’ve done your research on them. And make sure to ask them about their projects / work. You need to have an organic interest in that person as a person; not just see them purely as a contact or a job opportunity.
If you want to work in this industry, be prepared to say why. It is also a good idea to have a few TV shows / favourite writers or articles or interesting cultural / political discussions to hand for conversation. It is not enough to just say 'I am keen' or 'I am passionate' - you need to have evidence to support your claims.
3. Keep it brief.
This is where it is a good skill to learn to say a lot in a few words. A really long email can be off-putting to someone, so you want to get your point across as concisely and digestible as possible.
You also don't want to come across too presumptuous. Sending a long cover letter when there has been no job advertised can be a little assuming. Often a few lines about you, your experience and what you have learnt; and then a few lines about why you are interested in this particular company or person. What is it about them specifically that you admire? If it is a company, look up their ethos (i.e. look on their 'about us' page).
This is where if you call up you can ask what sort of email is invited: would they like a cover letter or a CV - which could be kept on file? Or at the end of the email, say that you can always send on more information if they require it.
Language is really important, and you don’t want to sound staged or rehearsed. Be yourself, so any advice you take from this article make sure you tailor it to your own personal voice.
One good thing to do is use positive phrases. Say things like: ‘I’d love to meet for a coffee, and hear a little bit more about what you do’. Use flattery - people love to be made to feel important!
5. Spelling and Grammar!!
This one is quite obvious, but make sure you’re spelling and grammar is correct. ESPECIALLY on your CV!
6. Ask to shadow.
Even if they can’t offer a job to you, you can always ask if you can go in and shadow for a day. If you get the opportunity to, make sure to make contacts and be helpful.
7. End the email with a yes/no question.
People don’t like to say no, so often subconsciously if you ask a yes or no question they’ll respond to you positively. Something like: ‘Do let me know if you’d like me to send on a CV? / More information?’ Or: ‘would that be OK with you?’
8. Ask if they know of anyone else who you can speak to.
Don't be too disheartened if you cannot meet with whoever you have got in touch with. Often people are really busy, especially in the media industry where each day is completely different to the next. If they cannot meet with you, ask them if there is anyone else they could possibly put you in touch with.
9. Leave a few weeks before sending a follow up email.
It is a slightly tricky balance to be keen, but not be too pushy. A guideline you could use would be to leave about a month from your first email, and then if you are in correspondence with someone you could leave it a week or so.
It is best if you have not heard back after you've sent a follow up to try another avenue. They could just simply be too busy, and you can always try get in touch with that company another way.
10. Be clever with who you get in touch with.
If you try to contact the big names or the execs, it’ll be unlikely you’ll hear back. Often assistants are a good person to try. And they can always put you in touch with their HOD if necessary. This is where calling up can be useful - maybe ask them if, for example you want to become a script editor, if there are any script editors or anyone within the development department who might have the time and be willing to have a chat. Also, this might sound obvious, but get in touch with someone who does the role you’re interested in! Even if this is a junior level of the end aspiration you have.
11. Email addresses are often quite easy to work out.
For example, if their general email address is firstname.lastname@example.org it is likely their employees emails will be email@example.com etc. You can generally work it out. Or, worst comes to worst, find the person you want to contact on LinkedIn and speak to them there first, then ask for their email.
12. Don’t be too disheartened.
If you don’t hear back, or if it feels like a long process - don’t worry. The media industry can be really difficult to navigate as, within each section of media, there isn't always a direct path to follow. Keep persevering. And try to not worry too much about the future. Enjoy the process now. If you fix yourself too much on the end goal, then you won't be able to embrace the journey as it unfolds, and learn from what you're experiencing now.
We hope this might be useful. This is just a simply guide, so do leave any other suggestions in the comments below!