Monthly Archives: February 2014

Case Study: Tweet, Tweet for Relay for Life


© 2014 American Cancer Society, Inc.

Relay for Life
, a fundraiser developed by the American Cancer Society, is an overnight event in which teams of people camp out around a track field or path. During the evening, participants walk around the track to remember loved ones who have passed away, celebrate survivors, and honor those battling the disease. One of the event’s highpoints is the Luminaria ceremony, where donors and attendees place a candle inside a bag marked with the name of a friend or loved one who has been affected by cancer.

Relay for Life has a special program for college students called College Relay, and your campus is sponsoring such an event. Your job is to encourage students to participate in the event.

Your task. Conduct some research about College Relay by looking at the websiteThen write a tweet of no more than 140 characters the organizers can send out to their followers.


A possible solution for this case study is available at the Instructor Premium Websites for any of the Guffey books: Business Communication: Process and Product; Essentials of Business Communication, and Business English. Look under the tab “Supplements and Solutions.” Or write to Dana at and she will send the solution to your school e-mail address.


E-mail Etiquette: “Strategic Sloppiness” vs Bad Form

It’s probably possible to calculate the number of e-mails sent eacID-10079481h day, but I sure can’t do it. I’m just assuming that figure is very, very high. But does each one of the gazillion e-mails sent each day need to be perfectly written and use proper etiquette?

Apparently not—but only if you’re Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg. According to a recent article on Business Insider, “strategic sloppiness” is acceptable among the higher-ups within an organization. In other words, Michael Bloomberg can get away with abbreviating “thanks” by shortening it to “tx.” And so can mere mortals who are well known to one another. But in general, e-mails need to adhere to proper grammar and spelling as well as the rules of etiquette.

Although e-mails can adopt a casual tone, most of us should follow these basic rules.

1.  Avoid the ultra casual approach (i.e. no proper greeting, poor punctuation, or use of emoticons) with strangers, bosses, and older workers. Ditto when applying for a job.

2.  Use a clear subject line that gives the reader enough information to decide when to open the email.

3.  Convey professionalism with an email address that is dignified, ditching inappropriate addresses such as “machoman@…” or “dramaqueen@…”

4.  Limit use of exclamation points to avoid coming off as immature.

5.  Be careful about using humor. What is obviously funny to the writer may not be so to the reader.

6.  Proofread and check grammar. Mistakes such as using “your” for “you’re” can make the author appear sloppy or worse, relay incompetence.

Discussion:  How might a future or current employer interpret an overly informal email from a young employee? While some organizations may overlook one grammatical error in an email, how do multiple errors reflect on the author? Why are concise, clear subject lines so important?

Sources: Giang, V. (2013, Oct. 27).7 email rules that every professional should know. Business Insider. Retrieved from

Giang V. (2014, Jan. 9). What looks like bad email etiquette could actually be ‘strategic sloppiness.’ Business Insider. Retrieved from

Sprucing Up for Skype Interviews

If your students are interviewing for a job, the chances are pretty high that many of them will be doing so via Skype.

Interviewing over video presents its own set of challenges, and advice on the topic is plentiful. Below is a summary of what many sources say are the most important factors students should consider before they interview using Skype or other online video services.

1.  Check the lighting. Test the light in the room where you’ll converse before the interview. Try to light yourself from the front and avoid backlight from a nearby window.

2.  Take care of technology. Close down other programs on your computer and plug in your computer to prevent the battery from dying. Make sure your Internet connection is working, and keep a phone close by just in case the computer connection goes awry. Remember to turn off the phone ringer to avoid an embarrassing interruption.

3.  Practice. As in an in-person interview, it’s always a good idea to prepare for an interview by practicing. Conduct the trial run with a friend who will give you helpful feedback about your voice volume or mannerisms you should avoid, for example, fidgeting.

4.  Dress for success. Learn the company culture before you choose what to wear. It might well be standard business attire. But at some organizations, overdressing can be an indicator that you won’t fit in. And make sure your outfit is from head to toe—don’t assume the interviewer cannot see all of you.

5.  Clear the room. Don’t conduct the interview in a cluttered, messy room. You’ll appear more professional and poised behind a desk against a neutral background.

6.  Position the computer. Note the location of the webcam on your computer and make sure you are looking into it, not above or below it. If you have to adjust the height of the computer, prop it up. Your entire torso should show, not just your face.

7.  Smile. Make sure you remember to connect with your interviewer and smile regularly.

8.  Use notes. There’s no reason you can’t look at prepared notes from time to time. Just make sure if you do, you remember to make it quick and to maintain good eye contact.

Your students may want to watch a video about conducting a Skype interview. This one from the Wall Street Journal features a college student who landed a job after her Skype interview.!46076C01-E1F3-404C-BA0F-FACB07C685CC