70th Anniversary: Making PR Headlines 45 Years Ago This Month

February 1, 2017

[lambert/getty images]
[lambert/getty images]

In a piece titled “Is the Much-Maligned Memo Really as Bad as Some Say,” Robert L. Stearns from the Xerox Corporation marketing department comes to the defense of this office communication in an edited excerpt from the February 1972 issue of the PR Journal, PRSA’s monthly magazine at the time.

The interoffice memorandum has been abused and otherwise misused to the point where practitioners of the “memo game” are often looked upon with contempt by their colleagues who prefer, they say, to make their contacts “more personal” by phone or face-to-face meeting.

Often as not, those most deserving of this contempt aren’t really bad guys. Usually, they’re simply windy on paper or would-be writers stuck in a bean-counting world. Sometimes they just enjoy dictating to their secretaries. Some are simply insecure and long for the attention they hope the memo will bring, especially from the boss and other influential people they copied in.

But, putting the players aside for a moment, and looking at the program, how does the office memo stack up as a valid business tool? We’re here to say it ought to be used more, not less. But properly.

Even over long distances, today’s memo doesn’t have to be delayed by today’s U.S. mail. I can be “phoned” from your desk by a facsimile device at the rate of a full page in four minutes of telephone time. — John Elsasser


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