In Brief Featured

10:01am EDT July 22, 2002

Here are three rules to follow: Keep your emotions in check; play the numbers game accurately; think big picture.

They could be maxims to run your business, hire an employee or purchase a competitor, but they’re some of the many tips included in a locally authored book, “Writing Effective E-Mail: Improving Your Electronic Communication,” by siblings Nancy and Tom Flynn.

Nancy, president of Nancy Flynn Public Relations Inc. in Northwest Columbus, and Tom, a senior information project leader for Liebert Global Services, merged their knowledge in an 83-page book covering message composition, grammar, formatting and organizing.

Some excerpts:

  • Be specific, but write as if your boss, the media or mom were reading.

  • Eliminate sexist language by using the generic pronoun “one,” for example, or using an article such as “the,” “this” or “that” instead of “his” or “her.”

They also warn of times when e-mail may be inappropriate, such as when you must deliver unpleasant news or when your message is extremely important.

The book, published in October [Crisp Publications, $10.95], was a first for the sister-and-brother team.

Nancy Flynn says she proposed the book when executives in her writing skills workshops expressed an interest in electronic communications—and when she saw the poorly written e-mail she received.

“It seemed as though there was a need to get the word out that good writing is good writing whether in cyberspace or on a piece of paper,” she says.

Apparently the publisher saw the same need, almost immediately accepting the Flynns’ August 1997 book proposal. After e-mailing draft versions to each other, the siblings delivered a copy to the publisher in January 1998.

Watch for more titles under the Flynn name. Nancy has another proposal in the works, and would not rule out a future collaborative effort with her brother.


“The secret to becoming wealthy is that there is no secret—just principles.”
Correspondent and radio personality Mort Crim, during the Better Business Bureau’s Business Integrity Awards luncheon this fall