You’ll gain practical experience in writing an informal report, using an email format, by building on the background information, prewriting, and emails about Phoenix Advertising you prepared for the graded project in Lesson 2, “Writing Effective Communications.”
This exam has two parts. In the first part, you’ll submit a topic outline following the format described in Step 3 below. In the second part, you’ll write an informal field investigation report using four headings:
Description of the Investigation
You should submit both parts in one Microsoft Word document. The Grading Criteria section below makes a good checklist for the expectations for each part of this assignment in terms of content and format.
Step 1: Review the Scenario and the Goals
Phoenix Advertising, with its main headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, serves clients that include banks, insurance companies and local businesses such as restaurants and shops. You’re the vice president of human resources management at Phoenix, and you report directly to Gregory S. Forest, the president of the company.
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 Roanoke branch and its clients are vital to the overall success of the company.
Mr. Forest explains what he has learned about the situation at the Roanoke branch over the last three months. Three graphic designers and four copywriters have threatened to quit because their creative contributions on projects are being rejected or revised without their input. They want to be part of a collaborative team, not to simply produce work that the art directors and account executives can alter arbitrarily. These changes to projects have also caused tension between the creative teams and account managers, causing an art director and an account manager to leave the agency.
In addition to the four clients who complained, others have not renewed their contracts with Roanoke. Several have posted poor reviews of the Roanoke branch on social media sites, leading to a drop in profits.
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.
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 to restore the Roanoke branch to full productivity
Step 2: Prepare to Write
1. Review the information on outlines in lesson 3, “Organizing, Researching, and Illustrating Your Material.”
2. Review the instructions on informal and formal reports and format in this lesson.
3. Reread the information about field investigation reports in this lesson.
4. Review the background and prewriting work on which you based your exam for lesson
2, “Writing Effective Communications.”
Step 3: Write the Topic Outline
Prepare a topic outline (no sentences) using the four Roman numeral points shown in the text box Guidelines for Writing Your Outline. Organize all of your prewriting and scenario information according to those four points. The following partial outline will guide you, but don’t be limited by the capital letters or numbers. Subdivide each level more or less as necessary to incorporate all your ideas.
GUIDELINES FOR WRITING YOUR OUTLINE
When you write your outline, begin with the four points listed as Roman numerals; then
subdivide and add details.
I. Purpose for investigating, including the location, the branch, and general nature of the
II. General approach to investigating the causes of each problem
A. One way you investigated the problem, such as interviews (subdivide two or more
levels as needed)
1. Four of the ten employees from the Graphics and Design Department
2. Head of the Graphics and Design Department
3. All ten employees during a group meeting
B. Another way you investigated the problem (subdivide as needed)
C. Another way you investigated the problem (subdivide as needed)
III. Overall findings about the underlying issues (primary findings as capital letters and
specifics about that finding as numbers)
A. First primary issue matched with first investigation method
1. One cause of the problem and/or the impact on business/morale
2. Another cause/impact
3. If appropriate, another cause/impact
B. Second primary issue (such as lack of communication)
C. Third finding/issue, subdivided as necessary
D. Continue to subdivide Point III to identify all your findings.
IV. Overall recommendation for/approach to solving the issues you found
A. Recommendation 1 (match with issue identified in III.A.)
B. Recommendation (issue III.B)
C. Recommendation (issue III.C)
Make sure the topics within the subdivisions (A, B, C or 1, 2, 3) are of equal importance.
Your first Roman numeral point requires no subdivision; it merely states the purpose of the field investigation and gives the location. For the other points, use your brainstorming information to add appropriate subdivisions and a significant number of details beyond the scenario.
If you subdivide a point, you must have at least two divisions. For example, if you subdivide to level 1, you must have at least a 2 as well. You can’t subdivide something by one.
Revise your outline for clarity and completeness. Your outline must show depth of detail, as well as correct format. Remember: You’re preparing this outline after you’ve finished your investigation of the site in order to organize your thoughts for your report.
Ask yourself the following questions when reviewing your outline:
· For Point I, did I state the purpose and branch location without subdivision?
· For Point II, did I list a variety of specific investigative methods, including with whom, where, and when?
· In Point III, did I specify causes for each problem and show the impact of the problem (effect) on morale and productivity?
· In Point IV, did I provide clear solutions that address each cause in the same order as I listed them in Part III?
Step 4: Write the Informal Field-Investigation Report
Begin a new page in the same Word document as your outline. Follow your outline as you draft your informal report using the illustration titled “Sample Field Trip Report in Email Format” from the “Informal Reports” section (do not use an email app). Use the ABC method for developing paragraphs and the headings shown in the sample field-investigation report.
Keep in mind your purpose is to inform the Phoenix Advertising executive team about your investigation and recommend solutions for the problems at Roanoke.
After providing your purpose statement and location of the branch, use the following along with your outline to write your report.
1. Description of the investigation. Describe in complete sentences and paragraphs the ways you investigated the problems to find the causes of each problem and their impact on business/morale. This section must describe a variety of objective, specific methods used, such as employee and management interviews, surveys, attendance records, budget reviews, and organizational observations. Use different methods to verify facts and causes—don’t use just an employee’s words or feelings.
2. Results. Write a numbered list of findings using complete sentences in which you fully identify the source of the causes underlying each problem and show the impact of each cause on employee morale/business. Provide a clear analysis of each problem in the scenario, identifying the underlying causes of each one and describing the impact on the company. Don’t merely summarize the scenario. By showing the underlying issues connected to specific impact/results, you establish a basis for your recommendations and show you’re addressing the root of the problems. You’ll probably need more than one sentence for several of your findings.
3. Conclusions. Clearly summarize the primary causes for the problems and their impact on business/morale. Use complete sentences and one or two paragraphs.
4. Recommendations. List detailed solutions connected to the root cause of each problem, which you identified in the Results section. Define specific procedures or processes that Phoenix must undertake to boost morale and profitability. List each recommendation in the same order as the causes you defined in Results. You may use imperative or declarative sentences.
Step 5: Revise
Referring to the above instructions and the evaluation criteria for the exam, revise your work carefully for clarity, content, and coherence. Edit grammar, spelling, and punctuation thoroughly.
Read through your work backward using the following methods:
Word by word. Use this way to 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-on 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 report. Does the paragraph help to develop that focus in some specific way? Then, match controlling ideas of each paragraph to the one before it and the one after it. Do they follow in logical order?