Friday, January 19, 2007

Remembering Alexander Graham Bell and the Postman …

There are two simple pleasures I enjoy in the business environment that are quickly becoming extinct.

Let’s start with my favorite: Receiving mail, the traditional way … via the mailman! I love it! Letters, notes, invitations, packages (not the direct mail kind), RFPs, thank-you notes etc. You feel extra special when you see a pile of envelopes and packages sitting in the in-basket with your name written on it. In my view, taking the time to write a letter, buy a stamp, address the envelope and drop it off in the mail requires a lot more effort than whipping off an email.

I’m very old fashioned when it comes to some aspects of mail. And please don’t get me started with electronic cards. How do you spell lazy? H T M L greeting card, that’s how! I couldn’t believe the number of electronic Christmas cards we were sent last year. Nothing to rip open, nothing to display on the mantel, no pen signatures with a personalized greeting … just a bunch of dancing reindeer and spinning snowflakes that slowed down my computer. Ugh.

And speaking of old fashioned, can we have some live conversations please? Let’s stop hiding behind email. Doesn’t anybody pick up the phone anymore? Everyone is popping up in my Outlook these days. Potential clients, suppliers, candidates, and spam … you name it, there it is. The problem is I am bombarded with so many intrusive emails that I delete in a hurry. With my spam filter on steroids, I often don’t return suspicious looking “hi there” messages. I’ve deleted countless important emails that could have easily been prevented by a phone call. I’m a strong believer in the “personal touch” approach. The PR business was built on that premise, and we need to remember the importance of reaching out and giving clients and stakeholders some TLC. When Jerry Maguire needed to resign “Cush” to save his agency, he didn’t email his dad, he got on a plane and worked the living room! A touching scene.

I think it’s vital for our business. We are raising a bunch of socially inept PR professionals at the junior level when they can’t even hold their own in a business meeting. Why? They’re too busy hiding behind their emails and “IMing” the world to even notice that there are human beings in the room. The power of persuasion and client intimacy doesn't happen over an email, it's often a face-to-face encounter or a live conversation over the phone.

Let’s all remember that while digital electronic devices may be ruling our mode of communication, there is still room for those ancient phone calls and hieroglyphic hand written notes.

Call me old fashioned … but for heaven’s sake call me!


David Jones said...

I'm scared to leave a comment...maybe I'll send you a fax.

Zoe said...

funny, a resolution of mine is to hand-write more letters. I even bought really pretty stationary for it. maybe this is the start of a new trend!

however, it hasn't stopped the million text/msn/e-mail msgs I still send.