Writing a Creative Out of Office

 
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I travel a lot. More than 150k miles per year, in fact. That means a lot of plane time and, as a result, a lot of time away from my inbox. 

Most people think of their out of office signature as a requirement. A courtesy. A way to say, “I’m not talking to you until X” with a tight-lipped smile. 

Most people don’t think of this simple setting as a branding opportunity. Which is why you’re lucky to be reading this blog post. 

Without tooting my own horn, I’m known for my wacky out of office signatures. It’s my “thing.” It delights anyone who emails me, even if it’s initially a stern one, and I would argue that it’s an imperative part of developing a solid relationship with clients online. Here's a taste:

 

Subject:
Nacho average out-of-office email 🌶

Body:
I'm in Mexico City this week, so I'm spending less time in my inbox and more time binging on quesadillas. In the meantime, forward any emergencies Lauren's way.

Let's taco 'bout your email soon when I'm back online. 🌮

 
Subject:
I'm thankful for... 🦃
Body:
It's Thanksgiving down here in the US and I'm thankful for a much-needed break from my inbox. If you're American, I encourage you to do the same. And if you're not American, hang tight until I'm back on Monday. 

Until then, *eats turkey*

 
Subject:
Lycklig 🇸🇪 😊
Body:

Thanks for emailing. I'd email you back promptly, but I'm enjoying a week of fika and kanelbullar in the most incredible country on Earth. (And I'm Canadian, so that's saying something.) 

I'm not ignoring my inbox completely—my access is just more limited than usual. If you expect an urgent reply, look no further than my colleague Lauren. But if you can wait until after July 20th, you'll be rewarded with a lycklig reply from me that's almost as sweet as the Swedish people themselves.

 
Subject:
Not ignoring you on porpoise ⚓️
Body:
Ahoy! I'm mingling at Summit at Sea and might not sea your email until it's over. If this is an emergency, contact my land-bound partner Lauren and she'll be your life preserver until I dive into my inbox next week.
 

After lots of trial and error, I’ve realized that writing an effective out of office signature can be distilled down to a simple formula: 

[Greeting in language of wherever you are/going], 
Thanks for emailing. I’m [insert local activity #1] and [insert local activity #2] while on a [insert adjective] trip in [Insert location name]. Expect a response from me when I’m [action word, like taking a break or finished] [insert local activity #3]. 
If this is urgent, email [insert email hyperlink and colleague name], who will be happy to help. But if you can hang tight, you’ll get a reply from me [when].


Let’s use my upcoming trip to Full Sail’s Hall of Fame ceremony as an example: 

Thanks for emailing. I’m leading multiple sessions and shaking a million hands while on a busy trip in Orlando for Full Sail University’s Hall of Fame. Expect a response from me when I’m taking a breather at my desk at (hopefully) some point this week. 
If this is urgent, email Lauren, who will be happy to help. But if you can practice patience, you’ll get a reply from me when I'm back. I promise it will be totally worth it.


Or perhaps my upcoming trip to London in March: 

‘Ello there, 
Thanks for emailing. I’m sipping tea and hunting for Yorkshire pudding while on a much-needed trip in London. Expect a response from me when I’ve spotted Prince Harry and Meghan (and I’m believe me, I’m determined).
If this is urgent, email Sue, who will be happy to help. But if you can hang tight, you’ll get a reply from me that’s as sweet as the Cadbury chocolate bar I’ve eaten daily.


Use this framework as a launching point - and get creative! Use emojis and paint a picture of what you’re doing that very moment for the recipient. Of course, use discretion with these signatures. (If you’re three weeks late for someone and that person gets an email about cookies, that won’t go over too well.) But know that this is a major branding opportunity that might just brighten someone’s day. 

Got an upcoming trip? Paste your email signature below and I’ll give you some feedback.