Bookend No Convey Goodwill

Using the Bookend No organizational structure allows you to make bad news palatable. It won't convert bad news into good news, nor will it make the recipient happy, but it is the best way to convey negative information.

The Bookend No organizational structure starts with a positive statement, leads into the negative news, and finishes with another positive statement. Note that you can't fake it, i.e., if you have nothing positive to say, you can't use this organizational structure. It works well with letters and informal E-mails.

Executive Summary

• A statistic or key benefit here.

• Another short point here.

• A compelling testimonial here that may run for several lines but looks shorter because it's positioned in a narrow sidebar.

• Another key benefit here. The text about the benefit may run several lines.

Begin Each Section with a Heading

Text running in the wider column using traditional paragraphs and headings allows for two different kinds of access: scanning and reading. When the narrative text relates to the Executive Summary on the same page, it's easy for a reader who is simply scanning the summary to read text that is of interest and skip or skim the rest.

A Subheading Here Breaks Up the Text

Readers who are interested in the details will be able to get the information they seek by reading the text positioned in the wider column. Your text can run for as many pages as needed.

You should aim to have about the same number of bulleted points on each page, just as you should try to have roughly the same quantity of text on each page.

Another Heading Indicates a New Section

The narrative continues on from one page to the next as it would in a traditional one-column proposal. This layout allows readers to read just the information they choose.

Exhibit 2.1 A Dual-Purpose Layout


Sonya needed to write letters to people who had interviewed for a job and weren't going to be offered the position. "In many cases," she explained, "the applicants were very nice people. They just weren't the best. I created a letter that served this purpose beautifully. Here it is."


Name and address of recipient Dear name of recipient:

Thank you for taking the time to meet with us regarding the xyz position. We were impressed with your background and experience.

However, we are unable to offer you a position at this time. With your impressive credentials, I'm certain that you'll find the perfect job soon. I wish you much success in your endeavors.


My name and signature here

"I was aware that no one receiving the letter would like getting it— after all, I'm telling them that they didn't get the job. But I think it's worded in as positive a way as possible." Note that the bad news is "book-ended" by paragraphs of not bad (thanks for interviewing) or positive (reference to good credentials) remarks.

Informal E-Mails

When Martin got an E-mail from a new employee suggesting a media buy they'd tried a few months before the employee had joined the company, he didn't hesitate to use the Bookend No organizational structure. "I wanted to reward her initiative. At the same time, I had to shoot down her idea. The Bookend No organizational structure allowed me to do both. I E-mailed her 'Thanks for the idea, but we tried it without success just a few months ago. (See the file on xyz.) I'm impressed with your initiative. Keep those ideas coming; the more the better!'"

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