Public Relations Tactics

Cover Letters: A List Of Things You Must Do

Publication Date: 2/2009

Source: SO01 Public Relations Tactics
Product Code: 6C-020951
Organization/Author/Firm: Susan Balcom Walton, M.A., APR
Specialization(s): Career Development
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o Proofread your cover letter carefully.
Tom Knox, vice president of Porter Novelli in Sacramento, Calif., says: “It’s competitive out there, and managers have to have a way of narrowing down the field. The cover letter is one of those ways. Don’t hand management a reason to turn you down by sending in a cover letter that’s badly written or full of errors.”

o If possible, address your cover letter to a specific person.
Maryanne Rainone, senior vice president and managing director at Heyman Associates, notes, “When it comes to cover letters, ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ is the kiss of death. ‘Dear Sir’ is even worse. It’s 2009!”

o Consult Web sites and news releases about the company to find organizational charts or the name of an HR manager. Or you can just call the company and ask who the HR manager is. If asked why, explain that you’re preparing a cover letter and want to know the correct name and spelling of the person receiving it.

o Be careful when creating multiple cover letters.
It’s best to avoid cutting and pasting information from one letter into the next. I’ve heard of more than one hiring manager who have received a cover letter with the wrong manager or company name in the text. Repeating the same text in more than one document also makes the letter less likely to communicate your specific interest regarding that particular job and employer. Customization will take more time, but it’s worth it.

o Make sure to give a prospective employer up-to-date contact information.
Double check to ensure that all of your information is correct.

o Sometimes being creative can work wonders.
Ashley Houston, recruitment director at GolinHarris, notes that some of the most memorable cover letters she’s seen were actually designed as press releases, such as “John Jones set to graduate from [name of university].” She says, “This not only showcases the candidate’s creativity, but also illustrates his or her command of the AP and PR style of writing — two critical skills that just about every PR recruiter searches for.