english business writing 0

This examination will give you practical experience in writing

a business letter and doing prewriting for an informal report. 

Preparation

Review the instruction on business letters in Writing Effective

Communications, particularly the content for an informationgathering letter (“Neutral letter”). Also carefully review

pages 1–17 in this study unit. You’ll be building on the

prewriting you prepared for the exam in Writing Effective

Communications, so make sure you’ve completed that exam.

Review your work for that exam, as well as the scenario

information provided below. 

Background

Phoenix Advertising, with its main headquarters in Charlotte,

North Carolina, serves clients that include banks, insurance

companies, and retail chains. 

You’re the vice president of human resources management at

Phoenix. You report directly to Gregory S. Forest, the company president. Mr. Forest advises you that in the last month,

four clients have complained about the advertising work

produced by the Roanoke, Virginia branch of the agency. He

reminds you that the clients served from the Roanoke branch

are vital to the overall success of Phoenix Advertising. 

Mr. Forest also explains the little he has been able to learn

about the situation at the branch: In the last three months,

two of the top management people—an art director and an

EXAMINATION NUMBER:

05002200

Examination68 Examination

account executive—have left the agency. Three of the graphic

designers and four of the copywriters are threatening to quit

because they feel their creative efforts are being rejected or

revised without consultation. They want to be part of a collaborative team, not to simply produce work that the art directors

and account executives can alter arbitrarily. 

In an attempt to increase revenues, the branch is accepting

new clients without evaluating the effects of the new accounts

on the current project workload. As a result, without notice 

or compensation for the additional hours, all salaried employees

are required to work long hours several days each week.

Employee morale and productivity are declining day by day.

Mr. Forest directs you to conduct a field investigation at the

branch itself to explore the nature of the problems that have

arisen there. Your investigative goals are to

• Identify and describe specifically the causes (root issues)

underlying each problem

• Show the impact of each problem on the business and on

employee morale

• Provide specific recommendations for resolving the 

problems in order to restore the Roanoke branch to 

full productivity

Process

Step 1: Prewriting

Prepare yourself for your visit by creating personnel information

for the employees at the Roanoke branch. Brainstorm and

freewrite about the number of people working in each department and the names and experience of each key executive

(including the two who left). Also review the information 

provided by the staff person and the executive team members

regarding agency and branch policies. Use the following

questions to jumpstart your prewriting, but expand on them

with your own questions and ideas. 

• Why wouldn’t employees be paid or compensated for

extensive overtime? Is the branch following employee

contractual agreements and agency/branch policies? 

Is the Roanoke branch operating under different salary

scales/schedules than others Phoenix offices?Examination 69

• Is the business experiencing financial problems?  

• Who at Roanoke oversees the account review process?

What are the procedures for accepting a new client

account and for closing completed accounts? Are

these procedures being followed? 

• Why are some, but not all, of the graphic designers and

writers complaining? Are their complaints legitimate?

Have they always complained or is this a recent development? If recent, what has changed to cause the

complaints? What have the art directors already tried to

do to handle their concerns? How does their negative

attitude affect productivity?

• Why did one of the top executives leave recently? 

In what ways has the absence affected the branch

productivity and employees?

• Has the loss of some management people caused the

regular procedure of collaborative review to be overlooked or are the complainers not doing their jobs

appropriately?

• What’s the nature of the complaints filed by the four

clients with Mr. Forest? What does each request to

resolve the situation?

Once you’ve created answers to these and other questions

you’ve asked yourself, determine how you’ll approach the

investigation to accomplish your goals and find the facts

underlying each situation. These methods might include

one-to-one interviews with employees, observation of the

work environment, surveys of the clients, and a review of

various business reports, policies, and procedures. Use a

variety of methods—don’t rely on only one, such as employee

interviews, because what people feel or say may not represent the reality of the situation.

Create further details as necessary to craft a clear picture of 

• The branch, the employees, and the clients (both 

satisfied and dissatisfied)

• Particular cause or source of each problem (usually

more than one cause)

• The impact of each cause on business and morale 70 Examination

Assignment: Methods 

In a Word document, type the heading “Step 1.” Below it

type a list of your methods and summarize what you want 

to accomplish with each. For example, if your method is to

interview each department as a group, what kind of information related to the problems should you be able to uncover

through that method?

Step 2: Gathering Information

Set aside your prewriting for a few days until you can 

revisit it with fresh eyes. Reread the scenario information

and add ideas to your prewriting as you review it. 

Suppose you decide to create two questionnaires, one for all

the employees at Roanoke and one for all the clients Roanoke

has serviced in the last 12 months. Your purpose is to determine when the problems began, how they’re defined by those

involved, what caused them, and how the employees think

they could be solved. Write several possible questions and

jot down any facts you hope to establish with each question.

Assignment A: Employee and Client Surveys

Continue with the Word document begun for Step 1. Type

the heading “Step 2A: Surveys.” Below it type “Employees”

and list in correct sentence form the top three employee

questions from your brainstorming. Choose words and phrases

appropriate for the intended purpose and audience. Under each

question, write one or two sentences describing the information

you hope to establish through the use of that question.

Type “Clients” and list the top three client questions from your

brainstorming. Under each one, write one or two sentences

describing the information you hope to establish through the

use of that question. Use language appropriate for the

intended purpose and audience.

Assignment B: Letter to CEO of Roanoke Branch

Continue from Step 2A in the same Word document, but 

begin a new page. Write a full-block style, neutral letter to the

CEO of the Roanoke branch in which you explain the reason

you’re coming and the preparations he or she must complete

before your visit. Use the ABC approach to developing 

each paragraph. Use correct sentence structure and word

choice appropriate for the intended purpose and audience. Examination 71

Based on your prewriting, detail what reports and client

accounts you’ll review during that visit, the meetings and

interviews you want to conduct, any branch policies on

which you need further information, employee performance

reviews, procedural manuals, and so on. Be sure to end in a

positive tone showing appreciation for the CEO’s assistance.

Include a representation of your signature above your typed

name (such as typing it in italics or script font).

Step 3: Organizing

Now imagine that you’ve visited Roanoke, met with the people,

conducted the interviews, and reviewed the surveys and

other information. You’ve returned to Charlotte and are

sorting the information gathered from your investigation

according to the primary problem. 

Review all your prewriting and freewrite on any problem not

yet clearly defined in terms of causes, the impact on employee

morale and/or productivity, and possible solutions.

Assignment: Problems and Illustration

Start a new page in the same Word document after the Step 2B

assignment for this section. For the “Problems” portion, you

may use words and phrases in bulleted or numbered form to

represent your thoughts instead of complete sentences. For

the “Illustrations” portion, you must use complete sentences.

Begin with the following labels for the Problems section.

Problems:

Facts and Causes:

Impact and Effects:

Solutions:

Under “Problems,” list four or five of the primary problems

you discovered in your investigation. Although President

Forest categorized the problems into three areas, you will

have found that one or two need to be broken down further, and/or you will have discovered other problems

unknown to Forest. 

Choose one of the problems you listed. Under “Facts and

Causes,” list those you identified—not only what people 

said or felt, but also the proof or facts you’ve uncovered that

identify the causes and underlying issues of the problem.

Remember, a major problem is the result of several factors

working together.72 Examination

For the chosen problem, describe under “Impact and Effects”

the impact on the business and on the employees for each of

the underlying issues you identified in “Facts and Causes.”

In your discussion, include numbers such as percentages to

show changes in productivity, employee work time, and so on.

For issues involving employee morale, be sure to explain the

impact on the business as well.

Finally, under “Solutions,” list ideas for each cause that will

end the negative impact as well as improve the situation,

making sure the solutions actually address the issue. For

example, suggesting an award for employee of the month may

be a morale booster in some situations, but probably not at

Roanoke, since the low morale is the result of serious problems.

If you create a solution you want to use but haven’t laid the

foundation for it in the causes and impact sections, then

return to those sections and create the necessary information

to support your solution.

After providing the above information, type “Illustration” and

below it identify a specific type of illustration (table, bar graph,

pie chart, etc.) you might use to represent numbers related

to causes or impacts. Then write two or three sentences

explaining why your choice is the best way to convey the

information to the executive team of Phoenix Advertising. 

Revising

Referring to the above instructions and the evaluation criteria

for the exam, revise your work carefully. For the survey

questions and letter (Step 2A and B), revise for directness,

emphasis, sentence variety, coherence, and appropriate

word choice for the audience and purpose. Carefully edit

grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Read through your

work backwards, first word by word, then sentence by 

sentence, and then paragraph by paragraph. 

Word by word. In this way you can locate spelling errors. Be

alert—you may see the word here in your essay, a correctly

spelled word. But also check the words on either side. Did

you mean here in terms of location or did you mean the

sense of hearing?

Sentence by sentence. By looking at each group of words

separately from the context, you can more easily locate run-onExamination 73

sentences or fragments. Compare the length and structure of

each sentence for variety. Also check the connections

between sentences—are they coherent?

Paragraph by paragraph. Locate the controlling idea of each

paragraph and compare them with your primary focus for the

memo and e-mail. Does the paragraph help to develop that

focus in some specific way? Compare it with the controlling

ideas of the paragraphs before and after it. Do they follow

in logical order?

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