Letter #2

As promised, here is my second persuasive letter:

Dear [W],

I’ve just completed an 8-month co-op placement with Punch Integrated Communications and in that time, under the tutelage of [X] and [Y], I’ve become a copywriter and editor. I’ve produced effective copy in a timely manner for all of our major clients, I’m a member of our Public Relations committee, and I happily volunteered to help this year’s CreateAthon become a huge success. Moreover, writing for Punch has given me the opportunity to expand on my pre-existing knowledge of our industry from my time as a Loss Prevention Officer for HBC.

I believe that I fit in well with the young, innovative team here at Punch. For example, after [Z] was hired, we built an immediate rapport. I worked closely with [Z] to teach her our documentation standards and make her feel welcome. After [X] left, I demonstrated the ability to complete projects independently as a copywriter, direct the work of a freelance writer, copyedit, and proofread—I feel my performance thus far indicates my commitment to Punch’s growth and success.

I’ve also enthusiastically leveraged my research expertise to create a clipping service for up-to-date news coverage on Punch and to access the Hoover Business Directory free of charge. Next year, I will be also working on a research project with Tom to produce a series of articles about Punch for various publications within our industry.

As a co-op student in your employ I’m currently earning $16 per hour. According to the National Labour Market Information Service, the average salary for editors in this region is $23.17 per hour and the average salary for writers in this region is $25.60 per hour. Both of these rates of pay are higher than what is to be expected for my experience level, however, I’m requesting a pay increase to $20 per hour as I believe that the experience I’ve gained and my potential to be an asset to the company is suggestive of an increase.

This rate of pay is appropriate for my experience level and the average salary for my position in this region. Furthermore, this pay increase will help offset medical and dental costs incurred as I will not have any health benefits during this time.

Thank you so much for the opportunities you’ve offered me thus far and I would like to take this opportunity to tell you that I truly desire to grow with this company. I think that we’re entering a new and exciting E-learning market sector and I’m very interested in a long term position with Punch Integrated Communications after Lindsay returns. I think that my interest in loss prevention and my skills as a researcher, writer, and editor will prove valuable to your company’s future. Thank you for considering my request and I look forward to your reply.

Best regards,

Allan McDougall

Which one is better, yesterday’s or today’s? Ricardo commented that yesterday’s was too long–this one is longer. LOL, sorry Ricardo. Please share your thoughts. I’ll comment back ASAP.


Letter #1

As promised, here is the first letter I wrote requesting some assistance with my research:

Hi [X],

My name is Allan McDougall and I’m an MA student in the department of English. I’m currently working as a research assistant for a psychiatrist and a rhetorician at the Wilson Centre for Health Education Research in Toronto. My role is to apply discourse analysis on the transcripts of end-of-life psychotherapeutic interventions between the psychiatrist and palliative care patients.

The goal of each intervention is to collectively create a legacy document for the patients and their loves ones. This is only one part of an overarching medical research project that seeks to change the way doctors are trained to treat dying patients.

Thus far, I’ve noticed that patients use second person pronouns to express general observations about humanity (mostly using the singular “you” but sometimes using the plural “we”). An example of this is: “Cancer is a gift. It makes you look back on your life; it makes you embrace your life, whatever it’s been like you embrace whatever has happened to you and I firmly believe that.”

I’ve searched some introductory English syntax material, but haven’t found any substantial information about the specific usage of second person pronouns. I’m about to begin a more in-depth analysis of second person pronouns, however my previous research on English syntax is limited. Drawing on your expertise, could you suggest any potential resources?

I might also add that this is a fascinating project which has produced very compelling results (the pronoun usage is my major difficulty right now). I’d be happy to meet with you to discuss my results in more detail if you’d like to learn more.



So, did I follow the format laid out in my last post? What did I miss? Any advice for next time? Conversely, what did you appreciate about my style?


The rhetoric of persuasive letters

I’ve had to write two persuasive letters this week: one asking for a raise and one asking for assistance with some research. I did some research before writing these letters and came across some interesting insights into the rhetorical structure of persuasive letters. There are three steps to an effective persuasive letter is: introduce your product, service, or request; explain its benefits; and then explain what the reader can do to help you. (I’ll post the two letters next week after I’ve anonymized them.)


First, introduce the product, service or request that you’re trying to sell or solicit—in the case of a request for an increased salary, that product/service is you. Discuss the product, service or request here, and outline its history including all striking and relevant background information. If YOU are the product/service, discuss your experiences, achievements, skills, and contributions to your company. In the case of a request for assistance with something (in my case, a research project), contextualize your research within a field and tie it to any relevant major theories or thinkers.


Next, you want to discuss the benefits of your product, service or request. Discuss the effectiveness of the subject you need assistance. Write in a way that answers the following questions (before the reader even has a chance to ask): what does your product, service, or request do or achieve? Don’t just explain the reasons it is good; explain the reasons it is good for the reader. As I’ve espoused in the past, writers need to envision an audience, and target each piece of their work for an audience. So, who is your audience? What do they want to hear that will convince them to help you?


Once your reader understands the benefits of the product, service, or request, they need to know what to do to help you. So the third paragraph is when you tell your reader what you want. Again, if you haven’t had a chance, demonstrate that you’ve carefully considered your request before asking. If you want a raise, discuss the reasons why and demonstrate your awareness of the industry average for your position and experience; if you want to sell a product, demonstrate you’re aware of market trends; if you want to request assistance with something, explain the reason you’ve selected this particular reader to help you out. In every case, personalize your request in such a way that is unique to the reader. Be as specific as possible so your request doesn’t sound come across as ‘junk mail’.


Lastly, appropriately thank your reader for their time and try to keep your conclusion as forward thinking as possible. By forward thinking, I mean mention that you’re “looking forward” to working with your reader, or that you look forward to meeting them. If you’re asking for a raise, explain that, moving forward, you want to grow with the company; if you’re selling something, mention how your services will last. In all professional communications you want to demonstrate stability and sustainability—two traits that tacitly invoke thoughts of the future.

What do you think? Are there any steps missing? Or do you have any questions as to the logic of this method of organization? Please post a comment with your thoughts. I’ll post my own samples soon.

%d bloggers like this: