Category Archives: CommVIT

Speech Writing II: Technical Guidelines

The following suggestions on format, grammar, and construction in speech writing will help speakers read the speech more effectively and listeners hear the speech more clearly:

• Never trust your speaker with an outline; write everything out, including all cues. If he or she is to hold up a plaque or point to a screen, for example, write those directions into the script, using parentheses.

• Write out dollar amounts (‘‘twelve million dollars,’’ not ‘‘12 million’’ or ‘‘12,000,000’’). Don’t make your speaker count zeros.

• Submit copy that is clean and double-spaced and has reasonable margins. Your speaker may want to make notes. You
may wish to use a large typeface. Some speakers like to have their scripts typed in all capital letters. There is, however, a danger that punctuation can get lost.

• Underline emphasized words.
• Repeat nouns instead of using pronouns (‘‘The school is in trouble’’; ‘‘The school needs your support’’) to remind listeners of the subject and bring their attention back to it should their minds wander.

• Write in parallel phrases and sentences: ‘‘Being here today gives me a chance to thank you, a chance to greet you, and a chance to bring you up to date’’; ‘‘This is a government of the people, by the people, for the people.’’
• Use simple words and simple declarative sentences. Short, crisp sentences are the most dramatic form of writing; forget big words and flowery language. Avoid tongue-twisters. Substitute common words for less used ones, for example, especially for particularly and stubbornness obstinacy.

• Beware of homophones—words that are pronounced alike but are different in meaning, such as pier and peer, sew and sow.
• Keep the subject and verb together. Good: ‘‘Having learned of the new schedule, John arrived at class on time.’’ Poor: ‘‘John, having learned of the new schedule, arrived at class on time.’’
• Don’t overload sentences with subordinate phrases and clauses. Clear, simple wording can transform lackluster speakers into attention getters.
• Be specific, use examples, don’t exaggerate, and don’t overdramatize. Avoid overstated rhetoric and stick to basic, clear expression.
• Beware of quotations. A common first impulse is to refer to Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations for a famous remark on the subject of your speech, but such quotes usually do not work. When a wellknown quote is appropriate and worth using, set it up correctly, like this: ‘‘As President Kennedy said in his inaugural address, and I quote, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.’ End quote.’’ Indicating when you
are using a quotation is essential.
• Avoid plagiarism. Not fully attributing a quote to its original source is plagiarism. Plagiarism is one of the worst sins of any kind of writing and can lead to public embarrassment.Online search engines and antiplagiarism programs frequently used by colleges make plagiarism, whether premeditated or ‘‘accidental,’’ more likely than ever before to be discovered. Punishments range from embarrassment to career suicide. Don’t plagiarize.

Speech Writing I: Eleven Steps

Step 1: Interview the Speaker

Discuss the Audience.

Discuss Topics.

Discuss Length.

Step 2: Interview the Sponsor

Talk with the people sponsoring the event at which your speaker will appear. Learn every detail: What time of the day or night will the speech be given? Will there be other speeches, and if so, by whom and on what topics? Will any other activity be competing with the speech? What will the audience be doing during the speech: Standing or sitting? Eating dinner? Having drinks? Studying printed material? Listening to a translation? What will the audience have been doing before the speech, and what will the audience be doing after it? What is the context of the occasion? Is it a one-time affair or a regular event?

Step 3: Choose the Topic

Where Do You Get Ideas for a Speech? In developing ideas for speeches, it helps to know a little bit about a lot of things.
Do a lot of reading, and try to keep up with everything that’s happening. Taking a definitive stand on a current controversy or looking at an old or new issue from a unique, or very personal, point of view are ways to turn an ordinary speaking occasion into a memorable event for the audience and the speaker.

HowMany Ideas Can Fit Comfortably in a Speech? Like an essay, a speech should focus on one main idea or thesis that can be summarized in one or two sentences. The anecdotes, examples, statistics, and other details that make up the body of the address should illuminate and support the main theme and serve to make it understandable and memorable to the various constituencies in the audience.

When Do You Proceed with Research and Outlining? Your interview of the speaker and the event sponsor, as well as your general knowledge of current events and company and industry issues, should suggest a number of ideas to choose from. Present your two or three best ideas to the speaker, asking that he or she make the final choice. Never proceed to the outline stage without an explicit approval.

Step 4: Research and Outline

Good writing is based on thorough research and a careful outline, and speech writing is no exception.

Research. Check all references and resources available to you on the subject of your speech and any subjects closely related to it. Use a library or data bank to look up articles and books that relate to the topic. Your research is not finished until you completely understand the topic and have more information and background than you’ll be able to use.

Outline. There are numerous ways to structure a speech, regardless of its content and length. The elementary threepart format of essays—introduce what you’re going to say, say it, and then summarize what you’ve said—is a good general format for speeches. Here is a sample of a basic outline for a speech a company president might give to sales representatives at an annual sales meeting:
1. Welcoming remarks
• Cordial greetings
• Purpose of meeting
2. Report card on company growth
• Sales figures this year
• Sales figures compared with those of last year
• Goals for coming year
3. Role of sales reps in relation to employees in other departments
• Comparative remarks
• Achievements
• Goals for the future
4. Conclusion
• Challenges ahead
• How to meet them

Step 5: Make It Conversational, Keep It Simple, and Keep It Light

Speeches should be based on conversational language. The less formal, bloated, and academic the writing is, the better the speech will be. There are phrases and idioms that look like slang in print but are wonderful when said aloud. For example, colloquialisms— expressions that are characteristic of familiar, informal conversation—should be used in speeches.

When writing a speech, ask yourself how the speaker would
casually say this to a person sitting next to him or her on
a train. That should help you express the information more conversationally in the speech. Keep the material simple and light but not trite. Using humor and anecdotes helps keep a speech light, but beware of jokes. Most public speakers do not have the timing and delivery of standup comedians, and most are not natural storytellers either. But if humor can flow naturally out of the subject and is appropriate to all considerations, then it can be helpful.

Never resort to joke books. Humor must be organic to work. The classic, awful opening of a speech is when the speaker tells an irrelevant little joke and then says, ‘‘But seriously, folks. . .’’ Some executives resist using humor and anecdotes. They’ll say, ‘‘I don’t do humor; this is a serious speech.’’ But you don’t have to be pompous to be dignified. Being serious doesn’t mean being dull. Injecting personal feelings, maybe even self-deprecating humor, is a way to attract and hold the attention of the audience.

The Lead. There are many ways to grab the attention of listeners at the start of a speech. You don’t have to open with
an arresting question, a compelling anecdote, or an inflammatory statement that shocks or startles—but it’s not necessarily bad if you do. More often, good speeches start with a salutation, the speaker’s gracious acknowledgment of where he or she is, who is being addressed, and why.

For example, Paul C. Reilly (2003), chairman of the board and CEO of Korn/Ferry International, began a speech in China by saying:
Good afternoon and thank you for having me here today. It is always a pleasure to come to Beijing, and I am particularly pleased to be addressing this group of MBA students, because you truly represent the future of Chinese business leadership.

Bob Wright (2002b) of NBC spoke on ‘‘Restoring Trust: The Work of America,’’ he began:
Thanks, Charlie [Menges]. It’s a pleasure to be here to speak to the Legatus organization and its guests. But first, you can’t invite a television executive anywhere without having to watch a videotape. I brought a short one that relates to my theme today.

Conclusion. The end of a speech must be self-evident. The audience needs cues that it’s almost over and the speaker expects applause. There are numerous ways to signal the end of a speech. The speaker can say, ‘‘Before I leave you this evening, I’d like to review the main point. . . , ’’ or ‘‘To conclude, I’d like to summarize. . . ,’’ or ‘‘I know you’re eager to hear the other guest speakers—and so am I—but before I finish, I’d like to say. . .’’ The best speeches have a unifying theme throughout, and the end of a speech should have a natural tie to the beginning. The main points should be summarized at the end of the speech. Whenever possible, leave an audience with an optimistic feeling. Point to what can be achieved, what challenges lie ahead, and what rewards will ensue. Steve Jobs’s speech both signals the end and offers a sense of optimism:

Stewart [Brand] and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalogue, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-Seventies and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath were the words, ‘‘Stay hungry, stay foolish.’’It was their farewell message as they signed off. ‘‘Stay hungry, stay foolish.’’ And I have always wished that for myself, and now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you. Stay hungry, stay foolish [Jobs, 2005].

Step 6: Personalize the Content
It’s important to please the speaker for whom you’re writing, but that’s not the only opinion that counts. The speechwriter has to consider the audience. Will anybody really want to hear the speech? Will anybody truly care? If you have personalized the content of the speech to the audience, the answer will be yes.

Personalizing the speech and injecting emotion into it can be challenging, especially when you’re dealing with lots of plain facts. But analyzing how the information affects the people listening to it should help you personalize it. If you have a diversified audience to reach, break down how the subject affects each group that is listening.

Step 7: Confront Controversy
Whether to address controversial subjects related to a speaker will always have to be decided on a case-by-case basis. But if your speaker has been invited because of that issue, you can’t possibly avoid it. Confronting controversy can be a good way to clarify misinformation, offer background perhaps not covered in the press, or disarm a hostile audience. You do not want the audience thinking about one subject while your speaker addresses another, and you never want your speaker’s credibility compromised. If a contentious subject is likely to come up in a question-and-answer period later, it’s better to bring up the subject first and tackle it head-on.

Step 8: Test the Speech, and Encourage Rehearsal
As soon as you’ve finished the first draft of the speech, read it aloud. Notice where your tongue gets twisted or you run out of breath, and rewrite accordingly. Then read it to someone else and ask to be stopped wherever the meaning isn’t clear or confusion arises. Before you show the speaker your first draft, test the speech by writing a news story based on it. If you have trouble writing even a paragraph or two, it may suggest that the speech is not very interesting and needs more work. When the speaker is ready to review the speech, try to be there to listen. Find out what is not communicated clearly enough or where the speaker may feel uncomfortable. Also, make it your business to check any audiovisual, video, or other materials that will accompany the speech. Participate in technical rehearsals whenever possible.  A speaker using a teleprompter needs enough practice that the operator learns to follow the speaker’s pacing, and the speaker learns to trust that the operator will speed up and slow down as needed. The speaker—not the operator and not the machine—determines the pace.

Step 9: Draft Answers to Anticipated Questions
Help your speaker by anticipating questions and comments the speech is likely to raise. Some speeches are followed by a questionand- answer period with members of the press or the general audience, and the speaker should not be surprised or caught off guard by any of the questions. Supply related information if it is likely to be requested. When a speaker does not have specific information available on the spot, it is perfectly okay to have him or her say, ‘‘I don’t have that information at the moment, but I will be happy to check on it and get back to you.’’

Step 10: Attend the Speech
Whenever possible, the speechwriter should be present when the speech is given. Short of that, the writer should review a video or audio recording of the speech. There is a great deal to be learned by hearing the speech delivered; it can always be better the next time around. It is also helpful to hear people’s reactions directly following the speech. Speechwriters often comment that the most valuable reviews are heard in the restrooms afterward.

Step 11: Recycle the Speech
If the press is attending the speech, it is usually a good idea to have a copy of the speech available (sometimes it is distributed before the speech is given), along with a press release summarizing the most important points. Speeches can also be compelling content when posted on the company or organization Web site, and in fact, many organizations
post actual video or audio so that the visitor can experience the speech almost as the original audience did, complete with the speaker’s gestures and intonations. Consider also making speeches available online for downloading and Podcasting. The speech in written, video, or audio form can become part of the organization’s online archive for future reference by both the media and others.

In addition to finding their way into newspaper stories, speeches can be reprinted in internal publications, excerpted in trade and consumer magazine articles, taped for radio and television uses, and submitted to newsletters on current speeches, such as Vital Speeches of the Day, which publishes the full text of eight to ten speeches twice a month, and Speechwriter’s Newsletter.

SPEECH WRITING 5.1

From Your Pen to Their Lips

In an age dominated by digital communications, public speaking remains a powerful tool to inform or persuade a group of people. It is an effective way to gain recognition and show leadership in one’s company, community, or profession. In fact, public speeches often help set policy and act as a catalyst for action. Good speeches are provocative and memorable; they should also be easily understood and moving. The best speeches gain a  life well beyond their moment of delivery by influencing the audience, whether their purpose is to inspire, motivate, or encourage thought.
Each speech should fit the personality of the speaker, the occasion of the speech, and the composition of the audience. A speech has to give the audience confidence in the speaker. A speech allows the speaker to be accessible and make an emotional connection with the audience; it is a chance to be more than just a corporate officer or political figurehead.

Speech writing is a radical departure from other forms of writing. Many of the greatest literary treasures would make
terrible speeches if they were read aloud. They may read well, but they don’t hear well. In speech writing, the rules of written English must be replaced with those of conversational English. Writing for a listener is entirely different from writing for a reader, but a good writer can do both:

• Just as every story pitch is customized to fit the style, format, and focus of the media outlet you’re soliciting, so too is each speech uniquely tailored to suit the speaker, occasion, and audience. That means there is no precise formula for writing speeches. The key steps speechwriters can take to ensure a coherent, appropriate script are:

• Begin the project by interviewing the speaker for ideas and speaking style.
• Learn about the place of delivery and the composition of the audience.
• Focus on a single theme.
• Obtain the speaker’s approval on the theme and the outline before writing the speech.
• Write for the human voice and the vocal rhythms of the speaker.
• Think of pleasing the audience, not just the speaker.
• Keep in mind any controversy surrounding the speaker.
• Remember the importance of rehearsal, and participate in the teleprompter rehearsal.
• Draft answers to anticipated questions, another form of the Q&A for internal use only.
• Hear the speech delivered.
• Research ways to recycle the speech so that it reaches a wider audience than those in attendance.

4 THE BIOGRAPHY AND BACKGROUNDER Bringing Your Subject to Life

Public relations biographies, often referred to as bios, follow two forms. The first, newspaper style, offers background information in a simple and comprehensive way organized as an inverted pyramid, with the most recent and most important information given first. The other is a feature biography, which is more like a magazine story or personality profile.

This chapter discusses the creation and structure of news and feature bios, obits, backgrounders, fact sheets, time lines, and bibliographies. Biographies
Writing an effective bio has ten steps:
1. Work from a sensibly constructed outline.
2. Command authority with the lead.
3. Clarify, simplify, and condense.
4. Vary language and sentence structure.
5. Connect thoughts.
6. Attribute quotations.
7. Back up all your claims.
8. Use one tense.
9. Assume nothing on the part of the reader.
10. Proofread carefully.

The framework for all bios is similar and generally conforms to the following outline:

• Opens by identifying the subject by name, title, and other relevant attributes

• Summarizes the scope of the person’s activities

• Offers educational and professional background on the person

• Saves personal information for the end, if such data are to be included at all

Follow Up

Stage Four: Follow Up
It is best to follow up a pitch letter with a telephone call to see if the reporter received the material and is interested in the story.As the reporter begins to shape the story, be prepared to offer assistance with further resources, such as interviews with senior management. Offer only someone who can add to the story and whom you can deliver within the reporter’s time frame.
Disappointing a reporter by overpromising is a sure way to kill the story that you’ve worked hard to pitch and place. Therefore, you must clear the possible interview with the executive in advance. You might start by telling the highest-level person involved with the project that you’ve pitched a story about the high-definition video camera to Videography and they seem interested. ‘‘If the story goes forward, I recommend that we offer an interview, and of course, the reporter’s first choice would be you. What’s your availability?’’ The executive may not be willing to do the interview. The decision may depend of the status of the executive, the relative importance of the publication or the
article, or previous interactions with the specific journalist.
If the executive is not willing or not available within the projected time frame, ask who else might do the possible interview, whom the publication would be interested in talking to, and who is familiar with the technical issues.When you speak to that executive, conveying the wishes of his boss, he or she will be both flattered and eager to oblige if he or she will be available before the reporter’s deadline. You can then comfortably offer the interview to the reporter.
Whenyou call, you can tell the journalist, ‘‘I’m calling to make sure you received the material, and I was wondering if you would be interested in talking to Ms. CEO for your story?’’

In today’s world of ubiquitous voice mail, be prepared to leave effective and tantalizing messages, such as, ‘‘I have a possible senior-level interview that might be helpful for your story.’’ The more you can promote one-on-one conversation with the journalist, the more subtle influence you can have on what is included in the story,
what is emphasized, and what is downplayed. Always remember that reporters are extremely busy and may not have time even to take your call. Use discretion to identify whom to call and when. For example, editors on morning
newspapers are on deadline in the afternoon, so the best times to call them are usually between 10:00 a.m. and noon. Radio and television editors have varying deadlines, but one rule is safe:
never call right before airtime. As we’ve shown, the pitch e-mail and pitch letter are crucial to effective public relations. Take the time to prepare them correctly. Then ensure their effectiveness by following up with an offer to provide additional information, and possibly an interview with the highest-level executive who is familiar with the areas that will interest the readership of the publication.

Chapter Recap
Here are the stages for successful pitches:
1. Analyze the subject, and identify the target.
2. Call the editor.
3. Write your pitch. Begin with a reminder about your telephone conversation. Then write a catchy lead and brief, informative text. Wrap up the pitch, and say you will follow up.
4. Follow up.

Writing a Catchy Lead,Compose Brief, Informative Text

Writing a Catchy Lead
The opening paragraph of a pitch letter is the best chance you have to interest an editor. You have only the time it takes an editor to reach for your faxed letter in the in-box and lift it from the desk to rivet his or her attention and prevent it from being tossed directly into the trash. If you pitch by e-mail, and most people do these days, your window of opportunity is even briefer; your subject line must arrest the editor’s habitual ‘‘Delete’’ response.
As with all other good copy, the lead of a pitch should be enticing and informative; it should make the editor want to
read on. Here are some good opening paragraphs and subject lines.
This one is directed to the editor of a financial publication:

Did you know that while 95 percent of female chief financial officers would recommend the career to other women starting out now, only 61 percent of them expect tofinish their careers in the CFO function?
These are only some of the surprising and interesting results of a recent survey of female CFOs undertaken by the executive search firm Korn/Ferry [Korn/Ferry International 2006].

The first sentence is often the hardest part of a pitch letter to write. One of the best ways to formulate an opening line is to single out the most newsworthy aspect of the subject you are pitching, and state it simply.

If you are pitching a case history, an interview, or a survey, you need to build up to the pitch with a provocative opening. The pitch from Korn/Ferry is a good example of this type of opening line: ‘‘Did you know that while 95% of female chief financial officers would recommend the career to other women starting out now, only 61% of them expect to finish their careers in the CFO function?’’ It’s a catchy opening, urging the editor to read on and find out where this fact came from and where the pitch is going. This lead is an example of how to make a dry subject interesting.
When writing an opening line, try to come up with something fresh and intriguing. Don’t use the first paragraph to give a lengthy history of the company you are pitching or explain who you are. (Your name, title, and contact information should be listed at the end of every e-mail or letter.) And don’t tell the editor about his or her readership. Many novice writers make the mistake of opening a pitch letter with something like this: ‘‘The readers of Videography are interested in the latest developments in the video industry.’’ That sentence only reiterates the obvious. Certainly a reporter for Videography will know what the magazine’s readers are interested in. Don’t waste time by pointing that out.

Compose Brief, Informative Text
Once the opening paragraph has caught your reader’s attention, the rest of the letter must flow smoothly and logically. If your opening line is, ‘‘Turn On the Sunlight (TOTS) has developed the world’s first self-cleaning solar roof panel,’’ your next sentence should take a natural step of detailing the facts behind that claim.

Thus, the second sentence might be this: ‘‘The effect of this patented technology means that TOTS’ panels will continue
working at 100 percent efficiency, even in smoggy city and foggy coastal environments where pollution and mineral deposits can quickly lower solar collection efficiency by 30 to 50 percent. TOTS’ breakthrough means more solar electricity generated, more fossil fuel conserved, and more money saved, according to John Doe, Vice President of Product Research for Turn On the Sunlight. Doe contends that the new panel. . .’’ Stick to the facts, and avoid using adjectives, especially words like unique, greatest, phenomenal, and incredible, which are overused and rarely true.

Through use of techniques such as numbered lists and bullets, you can pack in a large number of hard facts clearly and concisely. Whether you use bullets or straight prose, always keep your letter short. Rarely are you justified in writing a pitch letter longer than one page or an e-mail longer than three or four short paragraphs. When you have finished a draft, ask yourself a few questions:
• Is there any redundancy in the letter?
• Is there any information that is not vital to the story?
• Is there a faster way to get to the point?
There are standard lines for ending pitch letters. Each writer has a preference, but most end their letters with sentences such as Cohen’s, ‘‘Looking forward to your thoughts,’’ which implies further conversation. Others prefer to state more explicitly, ‘‘I’ll call you in a couple of days to see if you’re interested.’’

(3) THE PITCH: CREATING MEDIA INTEREST

The goal of most public relations work is to gain media interest in your story. The first step toward media coverage is usually a pitch—a concise summary that sells your story idea to a receptive editor, journalist, or segment producer, in the case of television and radio news and magazine shows. The process for presenting a good pitch can be broken down
into stages:
1. Analyze the subject, and identify the target.
2. Call the editor.
3. Write your pitch. Begin with a reminder about your telephone conversation. Then write a catchy lead and brief, informative text. Wrap up the pitch, and say you will follow up.
4. Follow up.

Stage One: Analyze the Subject, and Identify the Target

The key to a good pitch is the hook, or news angle, it offers. To find that hook, you must understand the subject you’re pitching and then consider the needs of the journalist who will receive the pitch letter. If you’re trying to promote a story about a new high-definition digital video camera, for example, the first step is to understand all you can about that camera and what makes it newsworthy and different from all others. Most of this information will be readily available to you, but if it’s not, seek it out. This may mean telephone calls to engineers who designed the product or salespeople who understand its position in the marketplace.
Most importantly, you must know the image of the product that your client or boss wants presented to the press: innovative, rugged, sleek, easy to use, refined, or ‘‘the professional’s choice,’’ for example. Identifying this angle is a key element of creating a brand image and may require a number of conversations with a team including engineering, design, marketing, and sales.
Once you understand why your product is special, you then turn to the target media. If, for example, you want the trade magazine Videography to write about this high-definition digital video camera, your approach should be technical and in depth. If instead you want USA Today, a consumer newspaper, to write about it, your approach will be entirely different, geared more toward general information. Find out who specifically at the magazine would write an article about the product you are pitching, and you must know what types of articles are published in Videography.

As a rule, the more comprehensive an article you aim for, the earlier it needs to be pitched.

Stage Two: Call the Editor

In some cases, you will know who the editor is, but most often you won’t. Call the publication, and ask who covers stories on high-definition cinematography. Once you know the person to call, you can make a brief phone pitch: a one- or two-sentence summary of your story idea.
When you make the call, introduce yourself using your first and last name, and explain why you are calling—for example, ‘‘My name is John Smith, I’m calling from XYZ Public Relations, and I represent General Electronics.’’ Explain that you have information on a new high-definition digital video camera that exceeds the expectations of cinematographers devoted to using film and that you think it would be a good story for a feature
article in their upcoming March issue on high-definition cameras and lenses.

Editors who have time to talk will encourage you to elaborate on your ideas. Their time on the phone is limited, so get to the point quickly and be brief. Having notes in front of you will help. If the editor directs you to someone else on the staff, your opening line to that person will include that you were ‘‘referred by the editor.’’ If an editor rejects your story immediately, listen carefully to the reasons (if they are offered). You can learn what will be better suited to that editor’s needs the next time. Then thank the editor, and get on to your next call.
When the editor encourages you to send more information, ask how she prefers to receive it. Confirm the spelling of the editor’s name and the e-mail address, fax number, or mailing address, depending on the preferred method of receipt and the type of material you are sending. Obviously a product sample would need to be sent by messenger, overnight package service, or priority mail.

Your credibility will be hard to reestablish if you get anything wrong.

Stage Three: Write Your Pitch

The written pitch often determines whether an editor or reporter pursues the story. Because most editors and reporters are extremely busy and don’t have much time for telephone calls, they often prefer to receive extended pitches and background material by e-mail, fax, or mail. Pitches are used for all kinds of reasons: as cover letters or e-mails attached to press releases, as invitations to events, as requests for endorsements or contributions, and so on. The most typical pitches are sent by a public relations representative to a journalist. In short, not only do you suggest a good story idea, but you also make it easy for the reporter to cover the story in depth by anticipating questions and providing research, background, bios, and previously published articles on similar topics.

Form and Tone

Pitches should always be presented neatly in standard business form on official letterhead or with your own or your company’s standard e-mail signature. The pitch reflects your—and your client’s—level of professionalism and competence. Grammar and punctuation should be perfect. If your pitch is sloppy, an editor might infer that your information is also sloppy and might discount your ideas. Forget all the shortcuts and bad habits you’ve developed text-messaging and e-mailing friends, and write in complete, properly punctuated and capitalized sentences. Before sending the pitch, make sure that you reread it carefully in addition to using your spell-check program. (Reading an e-mail aloud to yourself can be a handy way to catch errors as well.)
Unless you are friendly with the person to whom you are writing, do not use a highly personal tone, and certainly do not address him or her by first name. But don’t make the pitch too stuffy or formal either. Most of the time, you will be writing to editors and reporters you don’t know or don’t know well. Be professional and polite in your approach, and you won’t go wrong.

on next note; i would let to give you more detail pertaining to technical writing.