You work in the Customer Service Department at Greenlawn, a company that applies chemical fertilizers and pesticides to lawns. Recently Greenlawn received a letter from Gwen Smith, a customer with a five-year-old child and an infant. Ms. Smith is very concerned about the safety of the chemical you spray on her lawn; recently she read an article in the newspaper about a man who died suddenly after playing a round of golf on a course that had been treated by a similar company. The article stated that although commercial lawn treatments are generally safe, every year two or three people die because of an unusual vulnerability to the chemicals.
Your supervisor, Helen, drafted the following letter to Ms. Smith and asked you to review it. She asks, “Do you think this responds to Ms. Smith’s concerns?”
Analyze Helen’s letter presented below. Consider the following questions.
What is fundamentally wrong with the letter? What tech writing principle is most directly involved in this case?
How can the letter be improved? (Organize your memo so that your suggestions are easy to follow. Provide specific suggestions. Integrate direct quotations from Helen’s letter into your memo response. You may rewrite the entire letter for her and attach it to your memo if you like, but it’s not required that you do so.)
Did she choose the appropriate kinds of evidence?
Did she avoid logical fallacies?
Did she create an appropriate voice or persona?
Did she use appropriate language?
Write a memo (1-3 pages) to Helen recommending any revisions you think would improve it. (For help writing a memo, see pp. 385-87.) Remember that you are providing constructive criticism to your boss–your tone is important.
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